“One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
Most people have no problem working when they stand to benefit – commonly through payment. After all, our mortgages, cars and holidays aren’t going to pay for themselves. But when it comes to giving up our time and skillsets for free, understandably, it’s not quite as easy. But perhaps we shouldn’t be thinking of volunteering as something entirely selfless. With so many benefits to enjoy, from health boosts to career expansions, volunteering can be a life-changing experience.
Statistically, those who volunteer have lower mortality rates and lower rates of depression later in life. But why is that? Well, as many studies have demonstrated, helping others kindles happiness. Scientists think the social bonds you form, the sense of community you help build and the calories you burn when you leave your desk all contribute to a healthier, brighter life. The benefits extend to our careers, too. Volunteering your skills helps you develop new skills. Volunteering your experience helps you build new experiences. Researchers have noted that millennials are some of the most civic-minded and socially-aware employees – qualities that read well on a CV. Indeed, skills-based volunteering can be the perfect springboard for an employee looking to advance in their careers.
More and more people are volunteering these days. Some local authorities recruit volunteers directly, and work can span through a wide range of sectors, from education to environmental protection and community services. Generally speaking, a volunteer should be afforded the same level of information, training, supervision and protection as a paid employee engaged in similar activities. The challenge for the risk and insurance manager is to ensure that service managers within the authority understand that a duty of care is owed to volunteers. RMP has a useful guidance here for risk management in relation to volunteers.
As Hinckle’s irony suggests, by helping others we essentially help ourselves. Happiness, it seems, is contagious. Local authorities value the contribution of the volunteers who get behind worthwhile causes, and the feedback is invariably positive. Volunteering is fun, and it feels good. Perhaps we should be encouraging everyone with this message. ‘Don’t be shy. Go pro bono.’
Published date: 21st May 2018
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