Volunteering can make you a happier person

02 march 2015

A new study has shown that people who volunteer are happier with life, less stressed, less likely to feel burnt out and more satisfied with their work life balance. 

The study was undertaken in Switzerland and its authors found that people who volunteer are happier with their work-life balance than those who don't volunteer, even though they actually may have less spare time. 

The authors conclude that: 

Volunteering, albeit energy and time-consuming, may contribute to a greater sense of balance for workers which might in turn positively influence health.

And it seems Irish people have already discovered this. Figures from Volunteer Ireland show that 25-40% of people in Ireland volunteer on a regular basis, making Ireland the place with the highest level of volunteering in Europe, and 10th highest in the world.

And the start of the crisis saw an increase in volunteering in Ireland, with volunteering almost doubling in the 2008-2009 period. When asked why people choose to volunteer, most answer that volunteering is a way (in order of importance):

  1. To help their local community;
  2. To help build a better world;
  3. To meet other people;
  4. To increase the volunteer’s prospects of finding paid work.

Research by Comhlámh showed that Irish people don’t just volunteer in their local community. In 2012, some 4,500 people volunteered overseas, with the large majority spending up to 3 months working with poor communities in other countries. 

While there is still a dearth of research showing the impact of volunteers on the lives and livelihoods of people in developing countries, there is ample evidence that being a volunteer is a good thing for the volunteers themselves. 

And it seems employers agree: A study by LinkedIn among hiring managers showed that 20% of managers would give someone a job based on their volunteering experience, and that 40% stated that when they are evaluating candidates, they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience.

In short, if you want to feel better about yourself and your life, spend time doing work for others!

For guidance on volunteering opportunities at home and abroad: