Why Try Volunteering?
There are many different forms of volunteering: working for free, fundraising money, offering your time to assist others, and many more. Often when people think about volunteering, they think about the way volunteering helps the person or organization they are volunteering for. While this is evident, research shows that people who volunteer also benefit in numerous ways from the experience. Some evidence even supports that the person who is volunteering experiences greater benefits than the person receiving support. There is evidence that volunteering has a positive impact on a person’s mental health, physical health, social network and work life.
Benefits of Volunteering
1.) Social Networking – Volunteering leads to meeting new people and strengthening ties in the community. It helps individuals practice and develop social skills that will be transferred to future volunteer opportunities or the workplace. Feeling part of a social circle and creating social ties can reduce stress levels.
2.) Personal Interest/Hobbies – Volunteering is a great way to learn new things about yourself, including your interests, skills, strengths and weaknesses. It’s an outlet to escape from the daily life tasks and is used as a self-care technique. Trying new things through volunteering is a great way to for an individual to realize what career choice may be a good fit for them.
3.) Work Life – Volunteering has been shown to increase self-confidence as volunteers learn a variety of new skills. Such skills include teamwork, communication, problem-solving, project planning, task management and organization. Skills learned while volunteering are often transferable into the workplace. Volunteering usually has a positive impact on job prospects and increases the chances of employment. It’s a good way to try a potential career path without the long-term commitment.
4.) Health – Volunteering has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health. It decreases negative mental health symptoms, gives participants a sense of purpose and accomplishment. On the physical health side, it has been shown to reduce symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease.
Volunteering and Mental Health
Being a volunteer positively influences mental health for a variety of reasons. The social benefits have been shown to decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. Volunteers report feeling less isolated and more socially accepted through the experience. Volunteers report feeling a sense of purpose and accomplishment without obligation. They also report feeling higher levels of life satisfaction as they feel they are making a positive difference in the lives of others. Volunteering enhances resiliency as your social network and self-confidence increases, as well as develop problem-solving skills through independent and team work.
Volunteering and Return to Work
Often times, volunteering is a good starting point for reintroduction to the workplace. Having tasks and a routine help an individual mentally prepare for a return to work program. The self-confidence gained while volunteering transfers to the workplace and allows the individual to use the skills learned in their work role. Typically, the most successful return to work is gradual. This allows the employee to slowly adjust and transfer skills to the new working environment.
Gowan Consulting can assist with assessing employees’ cognitive abilities to determine their best job match based off of their strengths and weaknesses. We are currently offering our Cognitive Demands Analysis Certificate Program. The workshop contains the latest information and research regarding cognitive function, invisibility disabilities, and how to make assessments to ensure employee success. Register on February 20th and get 40% off in honour of our 20th Anniversary! Click here to read the amazing testimonials we’ve received from participants of this workshop!
Gowan Consulting can also provide Occupational Therapists to assist an employee with their return to work process and provide sustainable stay at work solutions. If you have an employee who is about to begin the return to work process, make a referral with us so we can assist you and ensure your employee is successful. We also offer webinars on returning to work which include return to work facilitation and planning, strategies for returning to work, complex return to work, disability management and much more!
Contact us for more information on how we can assist you in keeping your workplace healthy, safe and productive!
Photos retrieved from google.ca/images/volunteering