Doing Good Is Good For You
Interview with Kate Rubin, Vice President Social Responsibility (UnitedHealth Group)
By Amy Rossi, Editor and Kellie Gunderman, Assistant Editor (MSEJ)
The Military Service Employment Journal (MSEJ) recently had the opportunity to interview
Ms. Kate Rubin of UnitedHealth Group (UHG) about the effects of volunteering on your
health for our WorkLife Wellness section. Kate’s clear passion and sheer exuberance
for helping others shines through in everything she does, which undoubtedly stems
from her upbringing. She was raised to give back to the community and remembers
taking gifts and meals to those who could not get out during the holidays. Today,
her desire to not only give back, but educate others on the long-
For over three years, Kate has worked with UnitedHealth Group as a leader of the department of social responsibility. She has worked for big, medium and small companies and has lived all over the US, allowing her to empathize with the military lifestyle. Moreover, Kate is an avid supporter of the military, proudly devoted to her nephew who is serving as a Drill Sergeant at Ft. Jackson. "I'm just thrilled to talk to you about my passions and volunteering. This is a great thing that you are doing with the crossover between volunteering and work life." When Kate was asked what she would say to someone who does not think they have the time to volunteer, her answer was simple: "You don't have time not to volunteer!"
2013 Volunteering and Health Study
UnitedHealth Group, like many other large companies, chooses to support missions that closely align with their own. In their case, it is how to help people live healthier lives and build healthier communities. And so, UnitedHealth Group began the “Doing Good Is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study.” UnitedHealth Group believes that, "To help people live healthier lives and modernize the health care system... it is necessary to be active and responsible citizens in our local communities and around the world." They knew that volunteerism played a vital role in that mission, but they wanted to explore the idea that volunteering helps people feel healthier and helps employers as well.
Now that we know volunteering as an individual promotes an overall sense of wellbeing, how does it help companies? According to the 2013 Volunteering and Health Study, "If people are feeling healthier because they are volunteering, they will feel better at work as well." This causes less stress in the workplace, allowing employees to focus on their work and interpersonal skills. Overall, volunteerism directly correlates to a positive impact on any company.
How does a company begin to encourage their employees to volunteer?
UnitedHealth Group seems to have the answer: 81% of their employees along with 96% of their executives volunteer in their local communities. This is more than double what most companies contribute as a whole. Last year alone, UHG documented 460,000 hours of volunteering. Kate Rubin suggests that companies should explore volunteer opportunities for their employees that relate to things that are important to them as a company. Then, set the focus. UnitedHealth Group does this by placing employees together into work teams and providing incentives. For example, in 2013 anyone who completes 30 hours of volunteering per year, receives $200 to donate to the charity of their choice. In 2014, that amount is set to increase to $500.
With families and careers, it is no wonder why employees may find it difficult to find the time to volunteer. However, UnitedHealth Group has solved this problem with an innovative online platform: micro volunteering. The program allows employees to set up a profile with their skills and interests so that virtual opportunities can be sent straight to their computers. Volunteering tasks range from accounting and logo design to translation projects; the opportunities are worldwide across 28 different countries. In as little as 15 minutes, their employees can give back, and if you still think families can get in the way, UnitedHealth Group recently announced their lead micro volunteering expert of 2013: A mother of five, from Colorado.
The Bottom Line:
When people think about wellness they tend to imagine the physical, but Kate Rubin believes, "it's all about the balance between mental and physical... making sure there is time for work, exercise, friends and family. That balance is so critical." In fact, Kate began her New Year's Resolution early this year by making a commitment to get back into that balance and really focus on her own physical health. She ended our interview by telling the MSEJ, “It's a journey. It's not a destination. I fall down and get back up and try again.”
When the 2013 Health Study was released, the numbers were consistent, strong and
high. Kate told us, "I didn't have a hypothesis going into this study. I thought
there would be a positive impact, but I didn't know what we would find, statistically.
I was just curious... so there were a lot of great surprises in store for me." The
survey that was conducted included “full representation of U.S. adults, including