When the opportunity to join a team of NYC tech companies for a day of volunteering arose, we signed the Outbrain team right up.
Volunteering is important to many of our employees (we learned just how much so), and this is a passion they want to see spillover into the workplace. A recent article by Forbes wrote that 80% of a sample of Millennials wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society, and on the flip side, more than half of this sample said they would refuse to work for an irresponsible corporation.
Aside from the social benefits, research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health – those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater life satisfaction, and lower rates of depression later in life. A longer and happier life from helping others? Our participation in NY Cares Day was a no-brainer.
It wasn’t until I was writing up an email to send to the team about the event when I realized a potential deal breaker – it was on a Saturday. My usual Saturday routine involves rolling out of bed around 10, a lot of carbs, and Homeland, so I was a bit worried about attendance, but hit send anyway. Within an hour of announcing the idea, our team’s slots were filled, with a 10-person wait list. I came to realize that doing good comes naturally to us.
The event was a huge success – we partnered with our industry friends (Bonobos, Facebook, Yext, Foursquare, Uber, and others) and divided into groups to paint murals in the gym, spiff up classrooms, organize the library, plant flowers, and revamp garden benches. My job was to help to paint a mural in their auditorium, and my lack of artistic talent is documented in the image above – I spent three hours on that one pink flower behind the group photo. But it didn’t matter. It was still the most fun I’ve had painting in years.
While all of the health benefits and social support I’ve written above are great, the immediate benefit for me was that I got to know co-workers in a real way outside of the office. We talked about what inspires us, our partners’ names, who can eat the most nachos in one sitting –the important things. Though we’re still a relatively small office, you don’t always get the chance to spend a few quality hours not talking about work with people outside of your immediate team. This was the perfect excuse to do just that, while also doing some good in the community.
Though I got home that evening exhausted, I still was still buzzing with energy (the networking event after, where we all sat covered in paint and stuffing ourselves with greasy food didn’t hurt, either). I felt accomplished, and based on the feedback from my colleagues and hands raised for the next outing, I wasn’t the only one. I know the difference we made was a very small one, but it’s worth something more than one pink flower.
Bonding, giving back to the community, and burgers? Yea, we’re on board.