While surfing the internet recently, I came across several blogs from different individuals around the world who had set themselves the challenge of doing a good deed every day for a year.
Although the same time parameters do not apply, this sense of altruism is extending into the workplace. In the first few weeks of this year alone, we reported on several large employers’ charitable or green initiatives linked to their benefits or reward schemes.
Reinsurer Swiss Re, for example, extended its financial support for a further seven years for employees around the world who take action to reduce their personal carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint. The programme, which is designed to raise awareness among staff about the impact their everyday lives have on the environment, supports employees with a subsidy when they take action to reduce their CO2 footprint, for example by installing energy-efficient home appliances or switching to a bicycle instead of using a car.
Meanwhile, Virgin Media partnered with Evans Cycles on a programme that means that for every employee that takes part in its bikes-for-work scheme, a percentage of their initial order is donated to buy cycling equipment and accessories for disability charity Scope’s special schools and colleges.
Elsewhere, health cash plan provider Health Shield matched the £4,000 its employees had raised for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer UK.
Initiatives such as these mean employees cannot use the excuse that they would do more to help others/the environment/charity but do not have the time to do so. As the pace of life increases, this can be a big selling point to potential recruits.
Not wanting to cast aspersions on employers’ reasons for linking their benefits or reward strategy to initiatives for the greater good, they may find there are other advantages, too, not least the positive impact on employees’ mental wellbeing and stress levels.
According to The Mental Health Foundation, helping others promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness; brings a sense of belonging and reduces isolation, which is ideal for teambuilding; can improve confidence, happiness and optimism; and helps to keep things in perspective, as well as reducing stress.
Maybe extending the challenge of doing one good deed every day for a year to the workplace isn’t such a bad idea.