The benefits of giving back to the community extend beyond the organizations you give your time to. There are personal benefits for your physical and mental health, as well as those that impact the workplace. For instance, volunteering can:
Build your network
Volunteer opportunities are a wonderful way to meet new people and come with the bonus that these individuals share at least one interest or value with you. The people you meet and get to know may even be from within your own organization – you just haven’t had a chance to connect yet.
Create stronger teams
In the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, teams are constantly changing. Therefore, companies need to intentionally create strong team dynamics for every new project to drive project success. The exercise must be repeated in part any time a new team member is introduced to the existing group. Teams need look no further than volunteering as a platform to build better ties with their industry partners. Working together in a different setting can help foster new conversation that allow team members to get to know each other on a personal level.
Changing up your usual routines can be very good for your brain health. It needs a workout as much as our other muscles, and often the volunteer work we choose to do is different enough from our other everyday activities that it gives our minds a good chance to rest and engage in other ways. Depending on what you choose, you can certainly also get a good sweat on from your community engagement activities and getting your cardiovascular system revving is awesome for your heart. Of course, giving back can also fill you with positivity, releasing dopamine into your system, which makes you feel happier and more relaxed.
Provide development opportunities
Though each person has a specific role at work and on their teams, volunteering allows people to tackle different roles. For example, younger staff members can take on leadership positions for community events to learn management skills that can translate to their professional roles. On the flip side, more seasoned professionals may find that volunteer activities afford them the opportunity to learn new crafts, another way everyone can enhance their communication skills by way of volunteering.
Learn new skills and build confidence
Speaking of learning new crafts … Maybe you haven’t had much exposure to building. Perhaps you haven’t spent a lot of time in a kitchen. Or you’ve never had the chance to repair a book. Go out on a limb and sign up to volunteer with an organization like Habitat for Humanity where you can learn to feel more confident swinging a hammer; go to your local soup kitchen and chop vegetables; or a book bank where you may replace a book spine. No matter what new thing you choose to explore, you can learn skills from experienced professionals, gain more confidence, and know you’ve made a difference. These experiences may even propel you toward trying more new things.
Impart a positive impact on client relationships
Volunteering is not only an internal motivator, but it is also a way to enhance relationships with clients. There are opportunities to create volunteer experiences that directly relate to your clients in addition to supporting causes near and dear to their hearts. Understanding our clients’ needs and supporting their goals is important and shows a genuine interest that goes beyond transactional contracts. Although partnerships typically stem from business needs, there is still immense value in working together to make an impact outside of the project.
Being connected to community elevates your brand
When team members are out in the community wearing branded apparel, people see the good work being done and associate positive ideas with your brand. Take photos and/or video, and your opportunities to elevate the brand expand by creating social media postings. These also have the added benefit of reaching larger audiences. Once your efforts become large and successful enough, you may even find yourselves being covered by the news media—and that added exposure may lead to future work.
Community engagement can build you and your teams up in many ways. Whether you are building your muscles, your mental well-being, or stronger relationships, you are strengthening many foundations. And when we do it together, we make an even larger impact more quickly. I’m ready to get out there and create some positive change. I hope you’ll join me!