6 Tips to Incorporate Volunteerism In Your Workplace

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Health and wellness in the workplace is top of mind for us at WellnessFX – after all, the workplace is where you spend 36% of your day, it makes sense to optimize there so that you can also live the other 64% to the fullest.

We’ve discussed creating a culture of health, and how to create a more active workspace, and today we visit volunteerism as a contributor of good health in – and outside of – the workplace.

Why Volunteerism?

A recent Harris poll of 3,351 adults highlighted the 4 key benefits of volunteering that make a positive impact on people’s lives:

  1. Health: Volunteers say that they feel better physically, mentally and emotionally
  2. Stress: Volunteering helps people manage and lower their stress levels
  3. Purpose: Volunteers feel a deeper connection to communities and to others
  4. Engagement: Volunteers are more informed health care consumers, and more engaged and involved in managing their health

The WellnessFX team recently had our own volunteer experience to share!

The opportunity was a result of a lunchtime conversation turned into action. After a few team members expressed that they would like the opportunity to do more volunteering but weren’t sure where to start, some ideas were tossed around and we landed on making a home cooked meal for the families at our local Ronald McDonald House, which provides temporary housing, home-cooked meals and supportive services for families while their children receive specialized treatment in a San Francisco hospital.

You can read up on our full experience and the organization here (spoiler alert: We had a blast and everyone walked away with excitement to volunteer again).

We discovered some commonalities among the group that we thought would be valuable to share with more folks who also want to wrap volunteering into the workplace – whether you’re just starting out or are looking to improve upon your current efforts, here are our tips and takeaways to increase participation.

6 Tips to Incorporate Volunteerism In Your Workplace

1. Lower the barrier to entry.

You’re working with a group of people. Schedules, pre-existing commitments, and busy lives in general are colliding. If there are too many hurdles, participation levels will be low. For our group, we chose an organization that had an open calendar of 7 nights a week/all month long that we could pick from any night of the week to make it happen, as opposed to trying to get everyone to agree to the (example) “third Wednesday of every month.” Our team also only had one organizer – fewer cooks in the kitchen avoids “analysis paralysis,” as our Director of Engineering, Jeremy Barth, puts it. We also only scheduled this for a single night, which lowers the barrier to entry for folks that are not able to accept long term commitments.

2. Make it easy.

Teammates were simply sent a calendar invite via email that contained an address, time, and what they can expect. No need to bring anything – just show up. Following this first experience with the Ronald McDonald House, our UX Designer, Jing Tien, noted that participating again would be easy if they were “Recurring, already set up trips.”

3. Employ technology.

This is where you make the best use of your time by taking leveraging the resources around you. For us, our volunteer night involved creating a menu and shopping for groceries that we would bring to the fully-equipped kitchen at the house. Buying groceries for enough food to feed 20 people would easily be a 1-2 hour shopping trip + schlepping groceries to and from the car. Since Instacart is active in our city, we simply ordered what we needed via their mobile app, and scheduled it to be delivered the morning of. We even got some sweet deals on produce using Instacart’s Plus service, which features a shopping option (within the app) that has prices that are competitive with local stores. So we saved time and some money. A simple Google Doc was used to plan the menu, and calendar reminders were employed to re-send reminder details to the team.

4. Make it fun.

Did you know that laughter increases blood flow by 22%? It also boosts the immune system, stimulates circulation, enhances mental functioning, and boosts productivity. We chose a volunteer opportunity that would put us all in the same room, working together, because we enjoy hanging out. Our VP of Customer Service, Christine Keating, noted in feedback that “Doing it as a team was the best part.” The kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House was a perfect setting to chat while we cooked.

5. Tap into strengths on the team.

Outside of the skillsets we use daily to make WellnessFX the best it can be, our team is no stranger to the kitchen – we keep our fridge and cabinets stocked with healthy food to make salads and cook healthy meals and snacks to fuel our work days because we know it’s important to our focus, productivity, health, and well-being. The Family Cook Night seemed like the appropriate choice to not only help others using our strengths, but give our own team a chance to shine while being supported. What strengths are on your team?

6. Align it with your company values.

We chose the casual and team-oriented environment of the Ronald McDonald House because it fit with our own vibe here in the office. When picking your volunteer opportunity, consider what will be a match for your team specifically, and how it fits into the culture you’ve built so far. 

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know what you might spark in your own team.  “It was a great experience, and that first company-led trip has made it easy for me to start doing more volunteer work on my own” – Jing

Another thanks to the team at the Ronald McDonald House – for answering our questions, welcoming us warmly, and helping make this first experience a memorable one. 

To get started, you could try taking an informal poll via email from your team about what they’re interested in looking into based on organizations they’ve already heard about. You could also try out VolunteerMatch.

How WellnessFX Can Help

So what is the right blend of corporate health and wellness? Is it a color coded salad bar? Is it HRAs and HSA/FSA contributions? Is it a step contest and cash incentives for getting a flu shot? Yes. It could be any of these things – but just as each individual needs to understand what they are managing before they try to measure it, companies need to have a deeper knowledge of their employee population’s health risk trends in order to be in a position to effectively utilize their health and wellness initiatives and reduce overall costs. 

If you want to know more about how WellnessFX is helping companies get their employees healthy, learn more here (or pass it along to the person in your org.)

Learn More About WellnessFX For Your Workplace

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.