Looking for a way to make employees feel good, be happier and feel more connected? Consider activities that promote giving, both in the workplace and in the community. It’s a win-win for everyone and here’s why:
1. Giving Makes People Happy
Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton explores the connection between giving and happiness in his paper, “Feeling Good About Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior.” Norton’s research shows that giving causes happiness and happier people give more (in a very circular pattern).
NIH neuroscientist Jordan Grafman set out to test the connection between giving and happiness in a brain-imaging study. Interestingly, Grafman’s study showed the pleasure centers in the brain are activated not only when we give, but also when we see someone giving. And, those same areas in the brain are more active when giving to others than when we buy things for ourselves or receive something. Pretty interesting.
University of British Columbia’s Elizabeth Dunn explored the roots of happiness and money in her Journal of Consumer Psychology article, “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right”. She and her colleagues suggest that how people spend money has a real effect on how happy they are, and that using their money to benefit others rather than themselves is one way to be happier.
2. The Good Feelings Are Contagious
Dr. Emma Seppala of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism states, “Social scientists James Fowler of UC San Diego and Nicolas Christakis of Harvard demonstrated that helping is contagious — acts of generosity and kindness beget more generosity in a chain reaction of goodness.” Morality Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt suggests that this is because helping others elevates people in the eyes of those witnessing acts of giving, creating strong emotions and the inspiration to do the same. Think about it, it’s how “Pay-it-Forward” works.
3. It Makes Us Healthier
According to Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, expressing compassion and helping others leads to better health, longevity and happiness. It reduces stress, improves the quality of relationships and has positive physiological impacts on blood pressure and the immune system. Wow!
So giving doesn’t just make the receiver feel valued and recognized, it has meaningful emotional and health benefits for the giver too. That’s great news for companies who want to support workplace wellness and increase engagement. Finding ways to share kind, compassionate giving in the workplace and the community may be a perfect place to start.
What kind of workplace giving programs does your company offer?
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