There are many reasons people decide to volunteer. While some are forced to do it by either their parents, their significant others, or the law, there are some who do it because it makes them feel better. Some people volunteer to make up for past wrongs and to karmically cleanse their souls. However one of the many reasons people volunteer came as a surprise to me; they volunteer to feel a sense of purpose.
A recent Gallup poll went out asking Americans how they felt about their jobs and whether they were truly engaged. The results were shocking. A full 70% of American adults say that are either not engaged at work, with some even saying that they are actively disengaged. While I always thought that this number would be high, I was appalled when I learned this. I always though it was important to find a job that you love and it seems as though I’m in the minority in that respect.
It turns out that a lot of people are turning to volunteering and community service to fill the gap that their job doesn’t. In an attempt to find meaning and a sense of community and purpose, they turn to helping those in need due to the thought that altruism will help fill that whole in their lives. It has gotten to the point where there are too many volunteers for the non-profits they look towards to help them in their quest. However what ends up happening is that the purpose they find doesn’t come from the volunteer work itself, it comes from how they approach and do the work itself.
It’s interesting to think that while they search for solace in helping others, they actually find it in the way they approach this and the mindset they take upon themselves. Obviously people need to find purpose to make them happy and obviously people should volunteer to help those that are need. Yet it’s sad to realize that people are so unhappy in the professions they have chosen for their lives. Even people who work at non-profits feel disengaged from work, which goes to show that it’s not the job but the attitude that needs to be changed.
As more and more companies adopt changes to counter this current workforce malaise there is a chance that the number of people signing up to volunteer will drop. While this obviously isn’t good for those who rely on those volunteers to help them, it will create a happier overall population. Also just because some people stop others will realize that volunteering makes them feel good for other reasons and continue the trend of philanthropy.
You can learn more about this here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/opinion/sunday/being-good-isnt-the-only-way-to-go.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss