Did you know that encouraging employee volunteerism in your workplace could improve mental wellbeing, workplace engagement and bring about many other benefits?
Early this year, Actxa Wellness conducted a preliminary study with 284 employed participants. We wanted to examine the outcomes of employee volunteerism in personal mental wellbeing and workplace engagement. Despite the conservative sample size, we have some conclusions to our research and will be using insights from this research to further strengthen the intentional approach to the way we development our curriculum.
Employee volunteerism is defined by these guidelines:
1.The volunteer is employed by a company.
2.The volunteer gives their time to perform an act of service - financial donation and philanthropy are not considered volunteering.
3.The activity is intentional and not done on impulse. It could be one’s individual plan and/or through a company’s initiative.
4.The charity is an external non-profit organisation. A volunteer should not have an informal personal relationship with the organisation prior to the volunteering activity.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) normally happens once a year in an organisation and is an organisation-wide activity that is done during work hours and led by the CEO and HR or CSR team. Unless it is a pillar within the organisation to focus on, it rarely occurs regularly.
There is conclusive evidence from research that shows that there clearly are many benefits of volunteering, so why are not more organisations making it more accessible for their employees to engage in volunteering activities?
We’ve listing the benefits out for you in case you might not already know.
1. Job satisfaction and affective commitment of employees
3. Skill acquisition through volunteer experience
4. Psychological need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness
From our preliminary study, in assessing mental wellbeing, World Health Organisation 5 (WHO-5) well-being index was used. The scores could range from 0 to 25 with 0 representing the worst and 25 representing the best quality of life. Volunteers in our study reported a mean score of 18 while non-volunteers tallied a mean score of 15.
The Intellectual, Social and Affective (ISA) scale, a comprehensive measure of one’s attitudes and perceptions of their workplace, is used to measure overall workplace engagement in our preliminary study as well. A high score of 7 suggests a high level of engagement, while 0 suggests a lack of engagement. We found that volunteers achieved a higher mean score of 5.6 out of 7, compared to 5.2 for non-volunteers.
The results showed that mental wellbeing and workplace engagement scores reported by volunteers were significantly higher than non-volunteers. In the 183 non-volunteering group, our study found that 76% lacked time to volunteer, 63% were occupied with work commitments, and 45% had family commitments.
However, that does not imply non-volunteers will remain as such. There was a significant percentage of 65% of non-volunteers who expressed their interest in volunteering if they were able to overcome the challenges mentioned above.
Our insights from this preliminary study helps us understand that employed individuals who volunteer have higher mental wellbeing and workplace engagement scores than their peers who do not volunteer. Therefore, we recommend that employers should encourage volunteerism due to mental wellbeing and workplace engagement benefits.
If you’re wondering what causes/activities you could potentially also organise similar in your organisation for your employees to volunteer in, we have some interesting data for you. According to the 101 employed volunteers we surveyed, the top 3 causes/activities to volunteer in are:
1.Education and youth related (29%).
2.Elderly and healthcare related (23%).
3.Religion related causes (13%).
We hope that this preliminary study on volunteerism has given you more insight on the act of volunteering and the relationship is has to mental wellbeing and workplace engagement. If you are keen to find out how Actxa Wellness has integrated this into our Actxa Wellness Programme with our focus on wellness solutions for individuals and organisations, you may reach us at email@example.com.
Should you need any further inspirations on what your company could volunteer on, Giving.sg lists ad-hoc or regular volunteering sessions, with options suitable for corporates. Next time, try changing up your team bonding activity with volunteering instead!
A poster of our preliminary study on employee volunteerism is available here.
About Actxa Wellness
Actxa Wellness’ mission is to bring about sustainable lifestyle solutions through fitness, health and wellness. Our flagship programme is the Actxa Wellness Programme which provides employee wellness solutions to team build and create culture; elevate engagement and happiness; and improve overall mental wellbeing.
From providing hardware to track personalised physiological data, to leveraging a proprietary algorithm called the Healthy Living Score (HLS), to incorporating a tried-and-tested curriculum which includes workshops and challenges to engage and build sustainable positive lifestyle habits revolved around EAT, REST and EXERCISE, we have got our clients well covered.
Written by Chua Yi Ying
Yi Ying is an intern in Actxa Wellness, leading the preliminary study and project to incorporate volunteerism as an activity in AWP’s REST month. She has a background in Sport Science and Management from Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Before joining Actxa Wellness, she represented Singapore in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games under a new sport known as Underwater Hockey. Encouraged by the successful debut of the new sport, she continues her journey to spark interests in fitness, health, and wellness to the population. She believes that healthy living habits can be made enjoyable and excitable to anyone who wants to live their best lives. You can connect with her on topics especially on water sports and hiking adventures!
Edited by Alex Loh
Alex Loh is a consultant and coach in the fitness, health and wellness space, business owner, podcast host, loving husband and doting father. His compass is guided by the desire to help people. His focus is to help businesses and organisations harness fitness, health and wellness as the vehicle to build sustainable solutions. These sustainable solutions translate into elevated happiness and fulfilment for the individual and organisation.
As an everyday athlete active in various sports and fitness activities, he is a firm believer in wellness being the cornerstone of life. As a Wellbeing Champion, he is constantly exploring new ideas, activities and modalities on we can achieve greater general wellbeing. We only have one life, so we must live responsibly and be able to enjoy it.