We’ve all experienced the joy that comes with giving a gift. So how can we relay such positive energy in the office this holiday season when budgets are tight?
In an issue of Health Minute Magazine, Robby Slaughter, founder and principal of AccelaWork, discusses different forms of generosity in the workplace that extends past actual presents.
According to Slaughter:
Just as our personal lives can be enriched through generosity, we can make our workplaces more productive and more satisfying through the power of thoughtful giving. But instead of small tokens of appreciation in the form of inexpensive items, giving at the office is best expressed through work itself.
For your convenience, a reprint of the article is below.
The Power of Thoughtful Giving
Experts predict that Americans will spend $447 billion during the holiday season. That’s an increase of 2.3% over last year and a sign that the economy is heading toward recovery. Yet at the same time, many of us may wonder if the stresses of shopping and the financial challenges are worth the cost. What do we really gain from giving?
The answer comes from an unexpected place. Scientists in the emerging field of generosity research—whose backgrounds come from psychology, sociology, neurobiology and economics—have found that giving is both complex and fundamental. For example, you may have noticed a popular technique in charity events where a large sponsor offers a “matching gift.” This approach works because smaller donors feel a sense of collaboration, even though they don’t actually communicate directly.
We all know that giving is central to our well-being. Elizabeth Dunn, a professor at the University of British Columbia, organized a study which showed that making a gift as small as $5 made participants happier. Spending the money on themselves had no impact on their emotional state. In other words, science has proven it is better to give than to receive.
Just as our personal lives can be enriched through generosity, we can make our workplaces more productive and more satisfying through the power of thoughtful giving. But instead of small tokens of appreciation in the form of inexpensive items, giving at the office is best expressed through work itself. Helping a beleaguered co-worker with a difficult project not only relieves their stress and ensures the job is completed quickly; it also gives the person stepping up a sense of purpose.
Likewise, giving works in both directions. We usually assume that others will be disinclined to do favors for us, but studies prove the opposite. Frank Flynn, a researcher at the Stanford Graduate School of business explains that asking for help is surprisingly effective. “[Research shows] people are more willing to help than you think,” he says. “That can be important to know when you’re trying to get the resources you need.”
We get the most done when people are empowered to act, when they feel able to give, and when they have the courage to ask for help. Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted that “the only true gift is a portion of thyself.” Throughout this holiday season and beyond, at home and at work, give freely of yourself and ask openly for support. You’ll improve your own mood and lighten the spirits of everyone. Happy holidays!