Volunteerism Builds Employee Engagement and Customer Loyalty
Participating in charitable and community events as a company enables you to pursue team building in an unusual way while engaging and motivating your employees and supporting worthy causes.
It was hard not to notice the ubiquitous pink ribbons adorning just about everything during the month of October – they were everywhere from cereal boxes to the uniform jerseys of NFL players. These powerful reminders help to raise breast cancer awareness and allow organizations to show their commitment and support for the cause.
Everyone, including your customers and employees, can relate in some way to these causes, whether through personal experience or empathy. Diseases don’t discriminate and can affect anyone from CEOs to cashiers or their families. People like to get involved and help their fellow citizens.
What can organizations gain by getting involved?
Many companies keep to themselves and don’t commit to supporting charities and causes, which is okay. But the more generous ones get behind charitable organizations such as The United Way or one of the many causes mentioned above. Some make sizable donations to one or several charities and they may also offer matching gifts made by their employees.
Events are held in cities and towns throughout the year to raise awareness and funds for research and to support people with various forms of cancer (e.g., breast, leukemia, lung, pancreas, and prostate) and other diseases and conditions such as AIDS, Alzheimer’s, autism, diabetes, heart, and MS, not to mention Alex’s Lemonade Standor the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots. Most campaigns are organized around walks, runs, and bike rides of varying levels of distance and challenge, and they all have one thing in common: people are passionate about these causes.
Milwaukee-based Kohl's Department Stores sets a great example of team building with a purpose for their employees, their families, and their community. Rallying around their theme of "Kohl's Cares," they not only made a significant financial contribution to the Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure," but organized an event for their employees and their families to raise awareness, funds, and hope for finding a cure for breast cancer.
When companies such as Kohl's make a commitment to support charities or the communities in which they operate, it demonstrates to employees that you care about the broader world outside of business and sets a good example for them. It also creates a tremendous opportunity to encourage your employees to get involved by not only making financial contributions, but especially by getting together to form a corporate team to join their local events. Most such activities take little time to organize. Chances are that some of your employees are already involved on their own, so why not harness their passion by getting them to organize and lead your corporate team?
Building a corporate team for charity events creates leadership opportunities for some who are usually followers. In these instances, you may be surprised at the employee’s performance and look at them differently when new projects arise. It also gives you the chance to create a team of employees from across your business who might not usually interact with each other (i.e., executives working alongside the rank-and-file staff). Bonding together while preparing for and participating in charitable and community events can help to expand your employees’ internal networks, which they can use to enhance their jobs. Working together towards some form of physical challenge such as a walk, run, or bike-a-thon can be tremendously rewarding and create an emotional high – the people who participate together will likely form new friendships to enhance their personal and professional lives.
Your customers will appreciate that you are giving back to the community. Whether deliberately or subconsciously, if they know that you sponsor and participate in events for causes that they care about, then they are likely to feel a stronger affinity towards you than your competitors. And participants in the events who see your logo as a sponsor or shirts worn by your employee team could be current customers (whose attitudes towards you are reinforced) or potential customers (who may now be more inclined to buy from you because of your support).
Consider your business and whether you can donate your resources or expertise to the cause. For example, a design agency could volunteer to create ads and a website to support the event. Or a trucking and logistics company could provide their services pro bono or for a discount to event organizers. This allows you to showcase your work and expertise, which can lead to new business.
I am not suggesting that companies sign up for events every weekend. But for a minimal investment, you can do a considerable amount of good for your employees, customers, and community as well as those many causes in need while also building both formal and informal teams within your organization and fulfilling your corporate social responsibility.
Image credit: http://www.pinkribbonlabels.com/images/pinkribbon.jpg
Source: Profiles International