More and more companies are discovering that the biggest benefit to supporting their community is the boost it gives their business. If your organization is looking for ways to make a difference, we have ideas to help you start a company community involvement initiative.
This edition of our Blue Papers® will walk you through recruitment and bottom-line benefits that these programs can create. Plus, you’ll discover how some of our customers use their own programs to make their business—and their community—better.
The right kind of program
When building a program, think about the size and nature of your business to determine where you can do the most good. For example, Boeing® is working in conjunction with the city of Seattle to heat the company’s assembly facility using waste heat from the sewer’s trunk lines—a sustainable win for both the city and the company.
But that’s just one way to serve your community. Other focal points can include:
Money, time or space
In addition to financially supporting a cause or nonprofit, company community involvement can also consist of offering time, volunteers or other resources.
The Gettys Group, a global design and development firm in Chicago, Illinois, provides a meeting space for the Chicago chapter of the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality (NEWH)—a group that gives scholarships to students in the hospitality industry. The organization also provides networking and educational opportunities for industry members.
Because several members of NEWH work at The Gettys Group, the company lets the group hold their monthly meetings in Getty’s offices. “It’s incredibly beneficial to have the place we work support our personal efforts outside the office,” said Anne Hiter, Director of The Gettys Group’s Populate Procurement group and current President of the Chicago chapter NEWH.
Finding ways for your company to reduce, reuse and recycle not only improves your community and the planet, it’s also been shown to increase productivity, reduce costs and make it easier to comply with regulations.
For the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, focusing on environmental sustainability was all about solving a problem. Plastic bags were ending up in recycling, leading to a lot of material being thrown away. “So, we knew we needed to come up with a way to eliminate [plastic bags] from our recycling stream as much as possible,” said Campus Sustainability Officer Brad Spanbauer.
Reusable giveaways came to the rescue. The university gave students a branded reusable bag to store their recycling. The university also created posters, pamphlets and a video that explained how to properly recycle common items. “I chose the recycled plastic bag because it embodied the re-use, recycle aspects of our waste stream mantra,” Spanbauer said.
Community care creates MVP companies
Many people understand how company community involvement benefits communities and nonprofit organizations. Putting a sustainability or philanthropic program into practice has also been shown to:
Create more satisfied employees
Employees who volunteer or support their community are more engaged. Plus, volunteerism increases productivity by 13% and lowers employee turnover by 50%.
Improve your public image
Your customers, the community and even the media are more likely to notice a strong sustainability or philanthropic program, which improves your reputation.
Increase customer loyalty
According to one survey, 66% of consumers will spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. And additional research revealed that 9 out of 10 millennials will switch to a brand associated with a cause.
Sustainability and philanthropic programs empower employees to think about the company’s big picture, helping them find new and better ways to do their job.
Steps to start your community improvement journey
With so many ways to make your community—and business—a better place, starting a company community involvement program can feel overwhelming. By building your program one step at a time, you can ensure that it accomplishes all your goals.
Get employee buy-in
For programs to succeed, it’s essential that team members at every level be involved:
- Start at the top: If CEOs and other managers don’t consider the program a priority, other employees won’t think it is either.
- Select a team leader: Putting a staff member in charge of the program will help ensure it keeps moving forward.
- Create a team: Bringing in staff members from every department to be certain everyone in the company has a voice.
Choose an approach
- There are various ways to care for you community. Depending on the size and nature of your business, and your available resources, consider: Tackling multiple issues or supporting several organizations
- Creating a relationship with a single nonprofit and offering volunteer support or funds
- Allowing each employee to select a cause and provide time or resources to support their choices
Once your company has set a course of action, reach out to those who could benefit from it. When you connect, set up goals and guidelines, such as how many hours team members can volunteer each month and how much financial support you’ll put toward a project or organization.
NEWH in Chicago holds three fundraisers every year, including a summer social fundraiser where they handed out sunglasses as a reusable giveaway. Due to its long-time support of the organization, The Gettys Group allows members to promote the events to the entire company and encourages staff to donate or get involved. “Since many of our team members are also members of NEWH, we’re able to share our experience and communicate the tangible impact that their support has on the people we are trying to help—in our case its supporting education and helping young people further their careers,” Hiter said.
Tell your story
Determine whether you want to share your story with the public or only with your employees. Sharing company accomplishments with your workers will help keep them engaged so your company community involvement program succeeds in the long run.
Sharing your story externally can attract new employees. Nine out of 10 millennials say they would take a pay cut to work at a company that matches their values. It’s also a draw for customers, with 87% saying they would purchase a service or product based on a company’s social advocacy.
Keep working at it
Once your program has started—don’t stop! Make sure the program grows and changes as new staff come on board and sustainability options appear.
Community care creates opportunities
Company community involvement programs help attract and keep customers and employees while benefiting the community. Use these tips to build your program–and a better organization.