This article originally appeared in Recruiter.
Doing good and good business are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, good business relies on goodwill.
Gallup polls consistently show that roughly 70 percent of US employees are not engaged in their work. That’s terrifying. Low engagement means low productivity, high turnover, and overall stagnation — or worse, decline.
One thing proven to boost engagement is corporate giving. In a recent Great Place to Work survey, people who felt their employers “made a positive impact on the world” were four times more likely to say their teams were willing to go the extra mile to get the job done. They were also more likely to express pride in their employers and stay with their companies for a long time.
See the relationship?
While many organizations hold giving initiatives around the holidays, getting the benefits mentioned above requires going further than that. You have to thread corporate giving throughout the entire year.
Here are three easy ways to make giving a regular element of your company’s culture:
Your core values should be the driving force behind your company’s strategy and decision-making process. These foundational principles are the heart and soul of your organization; they express what is most important to the company and provide the framework for your company’s culture. Therefore, if giving and philanthropy are high priorities for your organization, they should be included in your core values.
Foundational principles may be stated differently from company to company. The wording isn’t super important, as long as the values are distinctly represented, resonate with team members, and are made accessible to employees
For example, have your core values displayed on a prominent wall in the office and include them in your company handbook. Ensure all employees have easy access to them and are reminded daily how to live them out. When giving is included in your core values, your whole team will understand it is something the company expects of its people on an ongoing basis.
Having your core values on display is a great way to keep them fresh in your team’s mind, but truly cultivating any part of your company culture requires more than words on paper. Pepper volunteer days or giving initiatives throughout the year, such as clothing drives or helping at a food pantry. Plan to do at least one giving activity every quarter, or even every month, if you really want to emphasize the habit of giving back. With all the ways to give back and a variety of honorable causes to choose from, there is no shortage of opportunities.
Participating in philanthropic activities at a company-wide level can bring many benefits. Charitable efforts engage the team in something everyone can support, and team members can build stronger bonds with each other as they work together to make an impact on their community. Philanthropy gives your employees a purpose higher than just carrying out assigned tasks, and the rewarding feeling of facilitating positive change will undoubtedly inspire the team to continue with these efforts.
Some organizations even make giving back a part of their standard business procedures. Subtle acts, such as making a small donation to a local organization for every client survey completed or donating a percentage of each quarter’s revenue, are great ways to make philanthropy an ongoing effort.
We make sure our Petra Coach member companies are engaging in charitable acts while under our watch by, for instance, having every person in the member company write a thank-you note to an active-duty soldier as part of the planning meeting. That’s our way of incorporating giving into the work we do and sharing our value of positive impact with people outside our organization.
If you are ready to support a charity, my suggestion is to look for organizations that have core values that parallel yours. That way, you are furthering your company’s brand while incorporating purpose into your company’s culture.
For example, if your mission as a food packaging company is to “feed the people of America,” find organizations that fight against food insecurity and hold regular food drives for them. At Petra Coach, our mission is to help entrepreneurs succeed in business, so many of our philanthropic efforts focus on supporting fellow entrepreneurial organizations. We make it a goal to find charities that align with our company’s mission, and in turn, all parties benefit.
It’s important to focus on causes your team members feel connected to, assuming the values of your people align with those of the company. When the cause resonates with your employees, you’ll automatically gain their buy-in. After all, any truly successful initiative requires support and effort from the team carrying it out.
The process of adding to your company’s culture has to be done gradually. If your company usually does one fundraising initiative per year, add one more for the coming year. If your team members have never done any charity work together before, introduce the idea with something small. A food drive or participating in a charity walk/run may be a good place to start.
In my new book, Vitamin B (For Business), I talk about the different aspects that are part of “growing your workers.” I note that it’s important to include spiritual growth, which is done by adding purpose. Employees want to feel like what they do matters.
That desire goes beyond their professional roles and day-to-day work to include making a difference outside the company’s walls. Employees will engage if they have that opportunity, especially if they care about the cause. Choose giving initiatives based on your company’s values, the work your company already does, and the teams you’re working with. That way, you will ensure that philanthropy becomes a strong part of your culture.