As the beloved holiday song proclaims, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Ask any child why that’s the case and they’ll tell you it’s all about the presents and goodies they’ll receive throughout the season. But, as they’ll discover as the years go by, true joy and wonderment of the season – and in life – is found in the act of giving rather than receiving.

In fact, it’s been scientifically proven. Plenty of studies show that giving is just as good for the giver as it is for the recipient. Volunteering and giving to others results in a boost to our physical and mental health. More specifically, those who give of themselves experience lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, decreased depression, lower stress levels and greater overall happiness. It’s actually been dubbed, the “helper’s high.”

Volunteering through a corporate lens

This time of year, many are aware of opportunities to serve and give back in their communities. From food banks and shelters to children’s hospitals, orphanages and more, the spirit of giving is in full force. Given the mental and physical benefits of giving back, organizations that incorporate this element into their wellness programs provide a well-balanced approach to wellness for their employees.

An overlooked benefit

Arranging structured opportunities throughout the year to employees provides a critical aspect of health that could otherwise be neglected due to a perceived lack of time or an uncertainty of where to reach out.

The term, employee volunteer program (EVP), is no stranger to workplace wellness programs. According to a recent Forbes article, “EVPs can kickstart a powerful cycle that promotes the health of not only the recipient and the employee volunteer, but also the employer and community at large.” In that same article, Lori Manning, HR Director at State Farm believes, “that if doing acts of good becomes a habit, just like drinking water or getting your steps in, you feel better about yourself. Then you bring that positivity into your personal life and your work environment.”

Giving back is a win-win

When employees see that their organization not only values the wellness of their workforce but of their community, there is a great sense of goodwill, trust and pride that results in even greater productivity. More and more companies are recognizing the overall benefit for everyone involved. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) the number of employers that provide opportunities for volunteering continues to steadily climb. "Over the years, employers across the country have bolstered benefits that contribute to employee well-being... One of these benefits particularly touches the heart and soul of employees: volunteering," Henry G. ("Hank") Jackson, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, recently wrote.

Tis’ the season to be jolly, as they say – filling our days with gifts, parties, goodies, time with loved ones and charitable giving to those in need. Extend the spirit of giving that is so often motivated during the holiday season; make giving back a priority that all can participate in throughout the year. After all, wellness programs that include volunteering create a culture of awareness, gratitude, happiness and productivity – sounds like a good workplace environment to foster!

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