By Anna Johansson
For centuries, leading businesses have earmarked portions of their revenue to go to charitable causes. And while the primary reason for charitable giving is obviously to benefit the people and groups involved, it’s hard to ignore the fact that generosity makes the giver feel good. But did you know that it also makes employees feel good when their employers are generous?
Mitchel Popovetsky, M.D., a primary care physician at Rush University Medical Center, has spent a lot of time studying the psychological benefits of giving. The insights he gleaned from researching this topic are pretty fascinating.
One of the studies Popovetsky likes to talk about involved performing functional MRI scans on the brains of charitable donors. It showed that the mesolimbic portion of the brain lights up after donating.
“This is the part of the brain that controls feelings of reward and pleasure. It’s also activated by things like food, drugs and sex,” Popovetsky says. “But that’s just the physiology of it.” There are also a number of other psychological and health-related benefits associated with giving.
Whether it’s through direct employee giving – in the form of volunteering or charitable donations – or the company itself sponsoring a cause, research shows that individuals feel a greater sense of job satisfaction when there is generosity involved.
According to a Deloitte Volunteer Impact Survey of employed millennials, those who frequently participate in volunteer activities in the workplace are twice as likely to report being “very satisfied” with their careers.
As a separate study explains: “Employee engagement through cause is a vital means by which to strengthen employee relationships, enhance employee morale and even build critical skill sets and expertise. Plus, employees are hungry for ways to get involved in cause.”
The connection between corporate generosity and improved employee relations can be tied back to a few specific benefits in the following areas:
On a related note: Make sure you include employees in the selection process. Some companies do this by offering what are called “prosocial bonuses.” This is money given to employees with the expectation that they’ll pass it along to someone in need.
“Lots of employers do this with match programs, like the one at Microsoft, where for every dollar the employee pays to a charity, the employer matches. This again helps develop a feeling of teamship and allows the employees to give to the charity of their choice, for a cause that’s close to them personally,” executive coach Angie Buchholz noted in a blog post.
Not sure where to start? “Setting up prosocial programs can be as easy as giving employees vouchers for a job well done, allowing them to give that voucher to the charity of their choice. This is a dual natured way of improving morale, as it gives the employees individual recognition, while allowing them to give back to a charity they care about,” Buchholz advised.
Once you understand the relationship between corporate generosity and employee engagement, you’ll see a world of new opportunities emerge. What will you choose to do?
Image credit: Pixabay
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.