With Thanksgiving only a week away, and the holiday season right afterwards, the spirit of giving is in the air. But it might surprise some to learn that community service could also be helping one's career. According to a new Robert Half survey, approximately 41 percent of U.S. professionals said they volunteer outside of work. Those good Samaritans said that charitable activities help them improve their sense of well-being and effectiveness at the office (61 percent), expand their network (57 percent), develop new skills (49 percent), and enhance their company's visibility (35 percent).

More male (45 percent) than female professionals (37 percent) said they volunteer outside of work, with more workers aged 18-34 (49 percent) donating their time than professionals ages 35-54 (35 percent).

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Workers were asked, "Do you volunteer outside of work?" Their responses:

Yes

41%

No

59%

 

100%

Of the respondents who volunteer, they were also asked, "How does volunteering outside of work help you professionally?" Their responses* were thusly: 

Enhances my wellness (e.g., greater work-life balance) so I can be more effective at work

61%

Expands my network

57%

Helps me gain new skills

49%

Increases visibility for my company

35%

*Multiple responses permitted

"Volunteering can help employees at any level build their careers," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, in a statement. "Not only does it provide the gratification of giving back to the community, but it could open doors to a new professional opportunity or business connection."

McDonald continued, "Managers may find that encouraging their employees to volunteer is a beneficial retention and recruitment tool. Many professionals value the chance to give back to causes that are important to them and their community."

Robert Half offers the following tips for starting:

  1. Find an organization in need. Search for organizations you care about in your community, and then contact them to see how they could use your help. Be sure to explain your particular skills and interests.
  2. Check with your employer. Many companies have ties to nonprofit organizations or facilitate charitable activities. Other companies offer volunteer matching or grant programs for those employees who give their time.
  3. Invite your colleagues to join you. One person can make a big impact, but there could be power in numbers if your coworkers come, too.
  4. Look beyond the holidays. There are community service opportunities available throughout the year, such as park cleanups and exercising for a good cause.

For more on Robert Half, head to their site here.