What is employee volunteering?

Employee volunteering is defined as an employer’s encouragement or promotion of volunteering activities done by their employees[1]. Employee volunteering provides an opportunity for public good as well as advancing strategic objectives[2]. Various advantages have been identified from employee volunteering.

For instance, Empolyee Volunteering can;

  • improve motivation, commitment, and teamwork;
  • provide opportunities for employee professional development;
  • and organisational reputational gains among the public, investors, clients, and future employees [3].

Volunteering and individual wellbeing

Volunteering has been shown to improve the well-being of employees. It is linked to a wide range of personal benefits including enjoyment, a sense of purpose and belonging within the community[4] and higher levels of life satisfaction[5]. Volunteering improves health, subjective well-being, and social relationships[6]. Research indicates that volunteers report improved physical health and reduced stress levels[7]. Frequent volunteering has a positive and sustained impact on individual well-being[8]. Volunteering contributes to well-being through an increase in personal well-being – something that is well established in research – as well as improving the well-being of communities, and Aotearoa as a whole.

Volunteering supports positive mental health

Furthermore, volunteering results in positive outcomes for mental and emotional health. Amongst people who engage in frequent volunteering, 76% feel heathier, 94% feel it has improved their emotions, and 78% report lowered stress level[9].Volunteering is directly associated with reported levels of happiness; the more someone volunteers, the happier they are[10]. Volunteering improves self-confidence and sense of purpose which, in turn, result in expanding social networks and advancing professional careers. Other benefits of volunteering for mental and emotional health are due to decreased stress and anxiety, and decreased risk of depression. Therefore, volunteering, as a way to improve the well-being of employees, has been linked to the mental health well-being framework actions points: giving – tukua, connecting – Me Whakawhanaunga, taking notice – me aro tonu, keeping learning – me ako tonu – and being active – me kori tonu[11].

Volunteering and wellbeingDr Solmaz Nazari
Policy and Research Advisor
Volunteering New Zealand


Read the rest of Volunteering New Zealand’s recent policy submission on the opportunity for the Public Sector to universally embrace employee volunteering as way of providing leadership in civic participation.


[1] Anne-Laure Gatignon-Turnau, Karim Mignonac, ‘(Mis) Using employee volunteering for public relations: Implications for corporate volunteers’ organizational commitment’, Journal of Business Research, 68, (2015), pp. 7-18.

[2]   Adam Grant, ‘Giving time, time after time: Work design an sustained employee participation in corporate volunteering’, Academic of Management Review, 37, no.4 (2012), pp. 589-615

[3] Delloitte, Impact that matters, (Delloitte, 2017). Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/about-deloitte/us-2017-deloitte-volunteerism-survey.pdf

[4] Stats NZ, Volunteering and Donations by New Zealanders 2016 (StatsNZ, 2017)

[5] Stats NZ, Fact sheet: New Zealand General Social Survey (StatsNZ, 2009)

[6] Thomas Hansen, Marja Aartsen, Britt Slagsvold, & Christian Deindl,  ‘Dynamics of volunteering and life satisfaction in middle and old age’, Social Sciences, 7, no. 5 (2018), pp.78-93

[7] UnitedHealth Group, Volunteering Linked to Better Physical, Mental Health (UnitedHealth Group, 2013)

[8] Martin Binder, Andreas Freytag, ‘Volunteering, subjective well-being and public policy’, Journal of Economic Psychology, 34, (2013), pp.97-119.

[9] United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch, Doing Good is Good For You (United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch, 2017)

[10]LSE Volunteers, Celebrating volunteering and fundraising at LSE in 2016-2017 (London School of Economics, 2016-2017)

[11] The Five Ways to Wellbeing, Ētahi ara e rima ki te ngākau ora, help people stay mentally well, <https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/home/ways-to-wellbeing/> [accessed 31 Jaunary 2020]

[12] State Services Commission, Public Service Workforce Data (Wellington, 2018), p.1