Benefiting everyone through community service days
As a founding member of Race2Rebuild, a charity racing team raising money for disaster recovery projects, I’ve been lucky enough to help plan and attend ‘build days’. These are large events where hundreds of people from all walks of life come together to do good for a day by working to rebuild communities destroyed after natural disasters. Individuals and other charity organizations are part of the mix, but there are always teams of company employees that turn up for the day who often tell me they leave with more than they ever expected.
Knowing that at the end of the day someone’s life will be better because of what you did - that of course is priceless for an individual. But, for a company or organization, giving your employees a day to get dirty in the name of a cause is also worth more than one might think, and has additional benefits. This is worth the occasional day of workplace productivity in many aspects of employee and company development.
What, exactly, does your company gain?
Fostering community. Today, many high schools and other programs directed at teens mandate a certain number of community service hours, but after graduation it’s up to the individual. A company that realizes the worth of good works and the merit of getting ones own hands dirty inspires employees. Often times, in business, people can feel like a number. Community service days remind employees that the leaders know they matter and that helping others is not just valuable, but crucial. Showing your support for the local community, giving back, sharing your time and compassion benefits both those served and your bottom line. Since customers often want to know what a big corporation is doing to benefit the community, these efforts provide proof of action. Onlookers will think of good works when they see your logo or hear about your brand, pushing them to see your company as a friend.
Team building. Consulting firms specializing in team building activities are springing up everywhere. A service day is team building at its best and doesn’t involve any extra consultant fees. Whether it’s renovating a house, creating a garden, boxing canned goods or anything in between, bonds are created, communications enhanced and greater ease with which colleagues can relate to each other is fostered. Community service days build teams in the field who will become even more productive back at the office.
Employee Engagement. In an era where employees are no longer staying put for thirty-years, employee engagement is precious for retention and good will. Swapping dress shoes for sneakers and suits for t-shirts and jeans releases employees from a workplace mindset. That shift empowers people while simultaneously benefitting community engagement and company loyalty. Finding a way to bring people together in a way that values the individual, community and company yields happier employees, an engaged workforce and employees that tout their company’s mission. (http://www.causecast.com/blog/community-impact-is-the-hottest-fashion-for-employee-engagement)
Renewed spirits. Placing people in a new environment with roles and tasks they might not be used to while working with their usual colleagues renews spirits. Taking the time to get out of the office, find out more about fellow colleagues and staff breeds camaraderie and boosts morale, all while also learning new skills. Wearing a relaxed dress code, getting hands dirty and working together in a new way will bring smiles to faces and foster reinvigorated employees. Here, character, not position, matters.
Creating opportunities for your employees to give back to the community are priceless. Not only does the public gain, but also, your company will continue to reap the rewards long after the clean up crew goes home.
Stacey Ebert is a former educator and event planner. She is currently making her way around the world as a travel blogger and freelance writer, with articles in Rolf Potts Vagabonding and Wandering Educator and published in American Camping Association Camping, tourism sites, Elephant Journal and more. Follow Stacey's adventures on The Gift of Travel.