Happiness on $5 a day?

In recognition of Intel’s 40th Anniversary, Intel employees around the world are donating a million hours of community service – at least that’s the goal. Having previously been on a, “What are we going to do to celebrate this anniversary” committee, I know the pain and agony of trying to come up with ideas (gifts, parties, memory books, etc.) that employees really appreciate and value. What normally happens is half the employees don’t like your ideas, and the other half are upset that you spent the money and time in the first place.

That’s why I really like this give back to the community idea as it seems like a real Win – Win for Intel employees and the community. Furthermore, there is some recent research suggesting that giving to others, in this case small amounts of money, increases the happiness of the giver.

Michael Norton (Harvard), Elizabeth Dunn & Lara Akninand (University of British Columbia); in their article, “Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness,” (Science – March 21, 2008) found an association with giving, with increased happiness in the giver. “Our findings suggest that very minor alterations in spending allocations—as little as $5 in our final study—may be sufficient to produce non-trivial gains in happiness on a given day.” Yet, think of getting a $5 increase in your pay at work – – that doesn’t release too many endorphins too the brain now does it(?) So maybe our employees will be the big winners after all with this year’s 40th anniversary celebration, as they will be more happy after giving back?

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