We’re busy, there’s no denying it. The demands of a work and home life that is more blended than it is balanced can leave us reeling, whilst our social consciousness is constantly bombarded with local and international issues tugging at our heartstrings and imploring us to help. Studies have shown its in our nature to engage, to support and be kind, and when we do, it’s hugely beneficial emotionally and physiologically. So here we are – stressed, stretched and conflicted – we want to do it all but how is that even possible?
Interestingly, it’s our employers who should be leading the way, as they’re the ones benefiting. The global communications company Edelman released their latest Trust Survey Barometer earlier this year – the result of researching over 33,000 people in 27 countries on trust and credibility. They’ve noticed a profound change this year, people have shifted their trust to relationships within their control, and their employer is reaping the rewards. Employees are looking to their employer to engage meaningfully with societal issues and take action, and when they see that happening, they’re more engaged, loyal and committed, and they’re great advocates too.
When we’re socially engaged and supporting something we care about, we’re activating apart of our psyche that demonstrates we care about something, and we’re willing to act. Very simply put, we’re acknowledging something outside of ourselves for the benefit of others – we’re being kind. When you get into that territory, then things get mind-blowingly good. Scientists have worked out that the kinder we are, the healthier we are. Our oxytocin and serotonin levels increase, making us more optimistic, increasing our self-esteem as making us feel happy. We have more energy, less aches and pains, and we’re calmer. Our cortisol levels are lower making us less stressed, anxiety and depression can decrease, and that delightful oxytocin can even lower our blood pressure. There are no negative repercussions – not one.
So picture this, you’re at work, chatting around the coffee machine about something that is important to you – perhaps a local community group, maybe the horrific aftermath of a natural disaster close to home or elsewhere in the world – wanting to do something to help, to step outside yourself and do something constructive. Busy working lives mean there’s often little time to donate, money is a quick and achievable option. There’s much nodding of agreement, but instead of walking away with your good intentions staying as exactly that, intentions, you can turn to your employer to support you and help you engage, either as an individual or an organisation. Better still, they fund match your donation. Everyone wins – you’ve filled up your kindness reservoir, your employer has proven their worth by supporting you, and the charity in question gets the financial help they need.
Of course that’s the most crucial part, the charity benefits and can continue to provide support and services. We can’t deny that it’s also good for business; employees feel a closer, more meaningful and committed connection to their employer, in turn the employer has a happier, healthier employee who values where they work for more than the work they do. The needs of the existing workforce are met and and their genuine advocacy is gained as a result, the most authentic way of growing your reputation as a great place to work to potential talent.
There’s a beauty in it really. As we blend our work and personal lives we have the ability to enhance both of them by acting on our basic impulse to make a difference, to be kind.