If the business world were 80s teen flicks (and I’m not saying it’s not…), your employees may feel like Say Anything‘s Lloyd Dobler right about now…especially if they’ve recently seen their benefits, bonuses or even pay taken away as companies try to save money.
Much like John Cusack’s lovable, love-weary everyman lamenting, “I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen,” your employees may be feeling little defeated if they’ve been putting 110 percent of their efforts into their work only to get little to nothing back in return.
While you can’t exactly help it if increasing financial stress is forcing your company to cut back, you can’t really blame employees if they feel like they’ve just about given all they have to give, either. So what’s a resource-strapped manager to do to lift his employees out of the dumps?
You might try asking them to give back.
Organizing a companywide volunteer effort can be an effective way to boost morale. (Especially if your employees are feeling like Lloyd Dobler, they’re just “looking for a ‘dare to be great’ situation.” So wouldn’t the opportunity to contribute to a greater good fall under that category? Yeah?…Have I effectively killed this analogy?) As this BusinessWeek article explains, company-organized charity initiatives can also increase professional development, team building and retention among employees.
Last month, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) held its Board of Boards CEO Conference to “share insights on leadership in corporate philanthropy.” Key findings from this year’s program include:
- 92% of participating CEOs are personally involved in their company’s corporate philanthropy programs.
- 82% of attendees indicated that philanthropy can help restore trust in the business sector.
- 80% of business leaders in attendance consider their employees and customers to be the most important constituencies when crafting giving strategies.
The CECP offers several helpful tips for companies as they consider organizing employee volunteer programss, including the following:
- Designate company-wide “days of volunteerism” to provide a focused and strategic platform to engage employees and senior management.
- Give employees paid time off to volunteer at organizations of their choosing to serve their individual charitable interests and fit better with their work schedules.
- Educate your employees on the needs of the charity or charities you choose to help and how their efforts have an impact on the community.
- Set up a Web site to educate and inform employees about available volunteer opportunities and to track individual volunteer time (for measurement and benchmarking purposes)
- Push this information to employees through multiple channels, such as e-mail, mail, newsletters, live events, etc. so they’re not always forced to seek it out.
- Look for hands-on volunteer projects that business leaders can direct or team projects that managers can rally their employees around.
- Survey employees to determine what issues they would like to see your company support, while also considering initiatives that match company goals, align with your brand, can be communicated easily, and can be executed.
Not sure where to start? The following sites can help you find the best charities and resources for your company goals:
- American Institute of Philanthropy’s top-rated charities: http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html
- Better Business Bureau’s charity section: http://www.bbb.org/charity or http://www.give.org
- Charity Navigator: http://www.charitynavigator.org/
- VolunteerMatch.org http://www.volunteermatch.org/about/
- Taproot Foundation http://www.taprootfoundation.org/
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