When you google “working on Fridays” you can find thousands of articles, and all of them are telling, more or less, the same story. – Friday is the day when employees mentally switch off from work and jump-start the weekend early. Don’t believe me? Go on, type the phrase and see for yourself. I’ll wait.
Now that we’re on the same page, let me pick your brain a little. Imagine it’s Monday, you’re back at the office, and one of your colleagues asks you about your weekend. What stories do you have to tell? Are they any different from the stories you told last week? Are they any good?
Friday is the least productive day of the week
It’s a scientifically proven fact. In 2019, a comprehensive research study of job productivity and social engagement across 10 countries was conducted by the online market research company Marketagent. The study confirmed that Friday is the least productive day of the week in all surveyed countries. To put it simply: Nobody wants to work on Fridays.
What if you could challenge the status quo and spend that time in a more meaningful way? Don’t worry, I’m not talking about more hard work. Actually, quite the opposite. I’m talking about having fun. I’m talking about you and your colleagues leaving the office early on Friday and spending a few hours together, meeting new people, and making a real difference in your community. What do you think? Will you have better stories to tell on Monday? Absolutely!
In the process, you’ll create meaningful experiences, probably learn new skills, and definitely, feel good! Because, doing good, and this is another proven fact, feels good! The scientific community calls this phenomenon “Helper’s high.”
The science behind the “Helper’s high”
Altruism is most commonly thought of as a selfless act that benefits the receiver. However, the science behind good deeds suggests that helpers may gain more from their altruistic acts than those receiving help.
Here are just a few of the ways that doing good can improve your attitude and make you healthier, happier, and less stressed:
- Doing good releases endorphins – the positive energy that you feel from doing a good deed can act on your body in much the same way that exercise does, releasing endorphins that make you feel good naturally. That’s why the “rush” that good deed-doers sometimes experience after performing an altruistic act is referred to as the “helper’s high.”
- Feeling of satisfaction – just because you’re being altruistic doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t feel good about it. You’re making a difference in someone else’s life and that should make you feel good. There is no reason to try to suppress that feeling or feel guilty about it. Think of it as a perk.
- Helps you feel more grateful for what you have – it’s not unusual for people to experience a “grass is greener” feeling from time to time. However, because good deeds are often done for those who are going through a difficult time, the experience can serve to remind helpers that their own lives are actually pretty good. Sometimes, seeing what is on “the other side of the fence” can make you feel thankful for what you have.
- Distracts you from your own problems – focusing on someone else can actually pull you away from your own self-preoccupation and your problems. In fact, studies have found that when people with medical conditions “counsel” other patients with those same conditions, the “counselors” often experience less depression, distress, and disability.
- Improves physical health – research has discovered that helping others can not only improve your mental health but can also improve your physical well-being. Volunteers tend to live longer and often have better physical health than non-volunteers.
Challenging the status quo
In any given neighborhood there are probably several nonprofit organizations that work for the benefit of the community or marginalized groups. In that same neighborhood, there are even more companies, minding their own business, not realizing the huge potential of – you guessed it – the least productive time of the week.
Include Social Friday in the formula, and something unexpected happens – a connection. A link between a business and a nonprofit entity, for the benefit of both parties.
The employees spend a Friday afternoon volunteering for the nonprofit organization and strengthen their bond, team spirit, and feeling of belonging. The social workers receive much-needed help to get things done while creating opportunities for greater impact.
The company achieves a better CSR score and the nonprofit improves its visibility while increasing the chances for long-term support.
Doing good is easy
The idea of Social Friday is to activate companies, organizations, and students eager to make a difference in the world, to organize themselves and dedicate four Friday afternoons every year to work together and make a positive impact in their community.
This is how it works in reality: let’s say your company has 50 employees. You decide that you want to spend a Friday afternoon in a more meaningful way, so you contact a nonprofit from your town and offer 15 of your people, including you and the senior management, to volunteer on next Social Friday.
Next, you plan your activity together with the nonprofit organization. You make a list of tasks, assign roles, make a timeline, and plan the resources. On the date, you go to the location of the activity and the fun begins. That’s it! Who said doing good was hard?
The Social Friday experience
Some might say, doing good for a few hours, four times a year isn’t much. Let me paint you a picture of what happens at every Social Friday event, and you make your own conclusion.
The previous Social Friday event happened on June 24th. I started the day by going through the activities about to happen in every country where I knew they were planned.
A company from Austria was going to volunteer in a women’s shelter and build a wardrobe for their needs. In Albania, one company was getting ready to clean the park in Tirana.
In Macedonia, another long-term collaboration between a company and a nonprofit organization working with Roma children. This time they invited even more people – employees from a waste management company and members of two student associations. And so on, and so on…
The afternoon came. It was slow at first, but as the day progressed my phone started to get crazy! One notification after another. Social Friday was getting tagged on all social media channels in posts, stories, Instagram reels, and Linkedin updates posted by the companies, organizations, and volunteers. I could see everything happening worldwide, live. Anyone could witness the same by following the hashtag #SocialFriday. That’s what I call a global happening of social engagement, generosity, and togetherness.
For me, those were the few hours on a Friday afternoon that made my day. Now take another look from a different perspective. If only ten events have happened across the world, if at each event there were only twenty employees, social workers, and student volunteers working together for five hours, the total comes to 1000 hours invested in doing good on a single day.
Now do the math if one thousand events are hosted worldwide at the next Social Friday on September 30th. Let’s join teams and make it happen. Let’s reinvent Fridays together.