Jan. 20, 2020 marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the only national holiday that is specifically designated as a day of service.
Recognized by nearly half of American employers, the holiday grants thousands of professionals paid time off to celebrate the civil rights leader's life by volunteering in their community.
Though many people use the day to rest and relax, research shows that volunteering in your neighborhood can be a huge benefit to both you and those around you.
According to Harvard Medical School, people who volunteer often are more likely to be physically active and less likely to be stressed. Additionally, according to a Boston College study, nearly 90% of companies that offer volunteer opportunities to employees see a correlation between employee participation and increased engagement at work.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has spoken openly about the benefits of providing volunteer opportunities to his staff. Employees at the cloud-based software company receive seven paid days of volunteer time off (VTO) per year. This includes, according to its website, doing anything "from volunteering at a school to building houses in remote parts of the world."
Benioff also says he provides opportunities for new employees to do volunteer work during their first day on the job. "On their first day of work, we take everyone and we show them the kitchen and the bathroom and their office and their desk," he told The New York Times. "Then we take them out and they do service in the afternoon. They'll go to a homeless shelter or they'll go to the hospital or go to a public school. This is a very core part of our culture."
Giving employees the opportunity to volunteer from day one allows everyone to feel good about their jobs, the tech CEO explains. And it shows them that their work is not only personally rewarding, but also rewarding for others. "Why do people want to be here? It's not that we have more amenities than everybody else," he adds. "We have less. We don't have a cafeteria. But we have a stronger purpose and a stronger mission."
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If you're looking to invest in yourself and in your community this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, check with your employer about volunteer opportunities that may be offered. You can also visit the Corporation for National and Community Service site for other volunteer events taking place in your area.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.