The Surprising Benefits of Volunteering

The TCH team is always on the lookout for innovative ways to improve mental health in the workplace. We were struck by the fairly new and incredibly exciting programme that has been adopted by a number of businesses in the UK called ‘Volunteering Leave’. In 2016 the Government announced 3 days of paid volunteering leave for workers in England and Wales.

A paid opportunity to help others, make yourself feel good and boost your business – it feels like win, win.

We reached out to Molly Lipson from Benefacto who told us about her experience in the sector and how she has witnessed the mental health benefits of volunteering in hundreds of people – those who help as well as those who receive help.

Benefacto is a social enterprise currently operating in 3 cities. Molly works for the London branch and has been tasked with increasing the number of people using their volunteering leave effectively and efficiently. In London Benefacto works with 50 small charities who don’t receive much support or recognition to help boost the number of volunteers who give up their time willingly to help them. Benefacto has also partnered with 80 corporates in the city who offer their staff volunteering leave. Their role is to match individuals with charities and support them to use their time to its maximum potential, in the process gaining personal growth and development.

The main benefits of volunteering are, of course, the fact that you’re helping others and contributing to society in a meaningful way. But Molly’s personal and professional experience has led her to believe that a large part of volunteering is about helping yourself. It simply makes you feel good. You get positive feedback from those you have helped and ultimately, there’s something in it for everyone.

Benefacto’s relationship with its corporate partners has also unearthed a fascinating by-product of the scheme. Productivity in the office is greatly enhanced when workers spend a few hours out of the office helping others. Working with others, often outside your comfort zone, can improve teamwork skills and other soft skills, like listening, empathy and delegating.

Some of the charities are skill-based so there’s much self-improvement and development to take advantage of, for example tending to someone’s garden or cooking involves learning new proficiencies or techniques as well as honing that highly underrated workplace necessity – teamwork.

Molly believes that volunteering has numerous mental health benefits. There’s much evidence to suggest that in terms of general wellbeing, getting out of the office for a few hours, being part of a community and helping others in your community promotes inclusivity and happiness.

So Benefacto helps companies develop meaningful corporate volunteering programmes. It seems they also help nurture positive mental health in those who are making a difference, improving their personal and professional skills and valuing this amazing opportunity.

Benefacto’s volunteer feedback tells a happy tale.

  • 91% felt they had made a difference
  • 68% developed their work related skills
  • 96% valued the chance to volunteer in work time

Help others, help your mental health and help your employers – let’s all get volunteering!

About the author

Zoe Sinclair is the founder of Employees Matter, the largest provider of employee engagement seminars and webinars in the UK.

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