‘Generosity is the most natural outward expression, of an inner attitude of compassion’, said The Dalai Lama. It is a quality we all aspire to cultivate. However, is it just a feel good experience we are seeking? Or does it impact different aspects of our lives?
In the workplace, generosity takes the form of giving – sharing ideas or knowledge, offering assistance, exchanging gifts/ pleasantries, etc. Organizations celebrate such behavior, because it lies at the heart of effective collaboration, and mutual success. However, surveys show that people are generally wary of giving, because of competitive company cultures – slim promotion percentages, common incentive pools favoring star performers, and forced performance ranking. As much as people want to give, not being rewarded for it becomes a deterrent.
Thus, to encourage its sustained practice, here are some hard to ignore effects of generosity.
- It increases workplace happiness. This was validated by a study at University of Wisconsin. According to Prof. Donald Moyniahan, “Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: Helping others makes us happier.”Using a longitudinal study of more than 10,000 participants, researchers found that individuals in their mid-30s who rated helping others at work as important, said they were happier with their life 30 years later. An offshoot of this study further emphasized that altruism also makes people more committed to their work and less likely to quit.
- It keeps stress under check. Refraining from giving is linked with higher levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. The Scientific American examined cortisol levels in response to giving away money, or choosing not to. The more money people chose to keep for themselves, the greater shame they felt, and the higher their cortisol levels were. While some stress is good, we know what steady high levels of stress can do!The psychologist associated with the above study, Liz Dunn, also studied the connection between volunteering and longevity. Guess what? More volunteering = less cortisol = longer lifespan!
- It promotes mental and physical health. Continuing with the theme of volunteering, a study published in the BMC Public Health Journal shows that it not only increases life satisfaction, but is also linked with decreased depression and a lower risk of dying early. This fact is further supported by a Carnegie Mellon research that showed more than 200 hours of volunteering in a year led to lower blood pressure level. For workplaces, this means lesser absenteeism, better productivity, and an agile work force.
In essence, giving serves others. But, with the impact highlighted above, there is so much that one gains. Not to mention the positive peer relationships. What’s holding you back then?