Serve Someone or Get a $1,100 Bonus? Studies Show Their Worth Is the Same

Abby Haralson

There’s no denying that people love bonuses. But it’s not the only way to build job loyalty and satisfaction. Don’t take this the wrong way—we’re not saying you should ask your employees to volunteer at the food bank a few times and expect them to be okay without that annual raise.

What we are saying is that intentional, consistent service will change your workplace like you could never imagine. We’re not just speaking from a decade of experience; we’ve got the research to back us up! 

Here’s the science of giving and how it could be the missing link to three things every business owner wants: unbeatable employees, more sales, and in the end, a happier life.

Alright, Let’s See Those Stats

First, we’ll state the obvious: service is good. We don’t think we’ll find many people out there who say that kindness is the wrong way to go. But there is a difference between being a nice person and creating intentional systems that help you do good. One way companies have been creating these systems is by giving employees time off to volunteer.

In 2022, 47% of US companies offered some kind of community service program and participants recorded better relationships with co-workers and improved productivity levels. So big corporations and small businesses alike are recognizing the power of giving.

What about the study we mention in the title? Data from nearly 70,000 UK participants showed that the increase in wellbeing due to consistent volunteering was worth £911 per volunteer per year (about $1100 US dollars in 2020).

What is it about service that makes it worth a cool 1k? Based on the research we’ll cover in this deep dive into the science of giving, there are five main reasons why your business is better when you give more away.

1. Giving Activates Happiness Centers in Your Brain

We’ll leave the technical stuff to the research itself, but in everyday terms, it’s referred to as a “helper’s high.” When you do something kind for someone else—whether you know them or not—your brain floods with endorphins that not only make you feel good but can boost long-term happiness.

And if you were feeling extra stressed, sad, or any other negative emotion that impacts your wellbeing before you engage in service, you would experience an even bigger “high” than average.

Our brain just really loves making other people happy, even though that’s not a headline we’ll see in the news often. And maybe that’s why—we constantly hear so much about the bad that our brains are desperate for ways to feel happier.

2. Stress-Reducer, Pain Reliever, Sleep Aid, and So. Much. More.

We understand that kindness isn’t like Ibuprofen; you can’t just take two good deeds and call us in the morning. But when we do give, our bodies react by releasing oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine (all those “feel good chemicals“), which helps reduce stress levels, pain sensations, and promotes a better night’s rest.

If you have average health and you’re looking for ways to manage stress or sleep better, the science of giving might just be the answer. Something as simple as paying for someone else’s order in the McDonald’s drive-thru line could get you through a stressful work meeting or an extra few minutes of precious sleep.

3. Trying to Live to 100? Get Out and Serve Someone

So, we admit, we can’t find any studies that say service will get you to 100 but many studies link volunteering with longer lives. This could be due to increased social interaction, reduced stress, and other factors. But one thing is certain: being generous doesn’t hurt your health.

4. Prescription: Give More Away 

Statistics about depression rates are everywhere and steadily climbing: 19.6% of Americans had been diagnosed at some point in their lives in 2015, 22.9% in 2020, and 29% in 2023. So many factors—seen and unseen—affect depression, and we are by no means saying that medicine doesn’t have its place in treating it. But what if we could push against those climbing rates with the science of giving?

We’ve already mentioned those hardworking, feel-good chemicals, which naturally make people feel happier. In addition, the access to social and emotional support from service can be a significant factor in decreasing symptoms of depression.

Plus, when we go out to give intentionally, our minds are taken off of ourselves and some of the worries that contribute to feelings of sadness and anxiety.

5. Proves Our World Is Really a Good Place After All

This one is a little less research-based but equally as important. When we give—time, money, energy—we’re proving to ourselves that we have abundance, or that we simply have enough of ourselves to give. Generosity deepens the perception that we live in a world of kindness, safety, and love. And who doesn’t want to live in a world like that?

What Was That We Mentioned About Unbeatable Employees, More Sales, and a Happier Life?

When your employees are happier and healthier, they do their best work. They might even start to see themselves as part of something bigger than just the 9–5 grind. As an employer, you can create systems of giving that make your team the “philanthropic arm” of your company.

And while giving time off to serve is great, we’ll do you one better. Build Then Bless™ is a platform that helps your employees:

  1. experience micro-interactions of service as they give to literally anyone around them
  2. feel grateful to be a part of a company that cares about humanity
  3. show up to work happier and more prepared to give it their all

Think about it like this: $25,000 to a cause that your employees probably know nothing about or $100 in the hands of each of your team members. They choose who they serve and get all the benefits (and more) outlined here. 

Build Then Bless™ is disrupting corporate philanthropy, and we want you to be a part of it. These few paragraphs don’t even scratch the surface of how Build Then Bless™ could transform your company and the lives of everyone associated with it (a big claim, we know, but that’s how much we believe in it!)

We’d love to answer your questions about just how impactful Build Then Bless™ could be for your company—get in touch with us to see how it would work for you and your team.

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Build Then Bless® is a first-of-its-kind cultural operating system for your business or organization that has the power to transform your people and truly change the world.

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