Gainfully employed people who volunteer in their spare time are healthier and more satisfied with their work-life balance than people who do not engage in voluntary work, shows a study funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
Although the majority of people doing unpaid work are also gainfully employed, earlier studies mainly focused on the effects of voluntary work on pensioners. Now researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have surveyed adult members of the working population in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and - after evaluating a total of 746 questionnaires - have published their results (*).
Greater sense of balance thanks to voluntary work
About one-third of the employed people who participated in the survey are also engaged in voluntary work on the side. In spite of the higher workload, they are more satisfied with their work-life balance than salaried people without a side-job. Although the difference is small, the researchers see it as an indication that voluntary work might provide a feeling of control over one’s life and time management.
This feeling of competence, along with the conviction that one is doing something useful for the community, can in turn generate positive health effects, such as reduced stress symptoms as well as psychological, emotional and social well-being. Nevertheless, Romualdo Ramos, who is affiliated to ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, asserts that "our study cannot rule out the possibility that the relationship is due to the fact that healthy people are more likely to take up voluntary work in the first place."
In addition, only those whose motivation for doing voluntary work is sincere could benefit from its positive effects. "If people feel pressured to engage in voluntary work or if they do so as a way of career advancement, the positive effects will probably fail to materialise," says Ramos.
Socialising beyond retirement age
The benefits of voluntary work are more pronounced in pensioners who do unpaid work. According to Ramos, this may be due to a higher intrinsic motivation to volunteer among elderly people than among the working population. In this context, voluntary work might play a compensatory role, providing social contact and integration after withdrawing from the workforce. Generally, those with rather weak psychosocial resources – such as unemployed persons or migrants – might benefit the most from the positive effects observed in connection with voluntary work.
(*) Busy Yet Socially Engaged: Volunteering, Work-Life Balance and Health in the Working Population, R. Ramos, R. Brauchli, G. Bauer, T. Wehner and O. Hämmig, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (in press)
(Journalists can obtain a PDF file from the SNSF by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Institut für Epidemiologie, Biostatistik und Prävention
Phone: +41 44 634 63 86
Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University
Geographers provide new insight into commuter megaregions of the US
01.12.2016 | Dartmouth College
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences