If Charles Dickens was writing his classic novel today, the opening line might read “It was the weirdest of times.”
Job openings in the U.S. hit a record high in September, as companies across industries and regions struggle to find enough help. There are a record number of container ships waiting to unload off the California coast because there aren’t enough dock workers to unload them. Even if there were, there aren’t enough truck drivers to pick up the containers. Even if there were, there aren’t enough warehouse workers to unload the trucks.
And so it goes, across companies and job categories. The economy is rebounding, but a record number of workers are quitting their jobs. In many industries, there aren’t enough employees to go around now. Businesses are struggling to find enough employees.
Employers have to think hard about retention and recruitment. Many are raising wages, but know they need to offer more than a paycheck. How does a company become an employer of choice—a place that people want to join and don’t want to leave?
One answer is to emphasize corporate social responsibility (CSR). How does community philanthropy impact employment choices? While its importance varies from individual to individual, as a whole, people feel pretty good about reaching out and helping others. And when a company does that, it’s not just saying, but showing that its leadership cares about more than just the bottom line.
Invest in Your People
Any type of team building activity—whether the objective is to improve collaboration, problem-solving, or professional skills—improves employee engagement.
It demonstrates to employees that their worth to your company is more than just the immediate value of their daily efforts. You’re willing to invest in improving their skills and their work life over the long term. You’re paying them not to do their regular jobs for a few hours because you place a priority on team building.
Even more than holiday bonuses or employee surveys, team building programs let individuals know your company really does care about them, by investing in developing their leadership and interpersonal skills, while having fun doing it!
We all know the statistics about how difficult and expensive it is to retrain someone when a good person leaves your company. So, retention is so critical. Employee engagement done correctly equates to retention and enthusiasm.
Show Your Heart
Incorporating CSR in your team building takes it to a whole different level. It’s tremendous when a company is willing to do something charity-related or philanthropic in combination with developing their people.
From the perspective of employees, it has to do with heart. It has to do with the spirit of the company, with the culture that your company embraces. At one of our recent team-building events, the client said, “I feel like every time we do one of these activities, it enhances who we are, the culture that we have as a company.” That’s a pretty powerful statement.
This manager felt that the fact the company took some time to do a team-building activity enhanced the culture; it had the entire group feeling unified because they had just worked through a very difficult activity together. They had just celebrated together, with each of the participants sharing something they learned from the activity.
At our Bike Build Donation® events, we usually don’t tell the participants that kids are going to be there; it’s a “reveal” at the end of the activity. When those kids come in, it’s very emotional.
Many of those kids have never even owned a bike before. And when the facilitator asks everyone to close their eyes, and they sneak the kids in and tell a story, when everybody opens their eyes and the kids are standing there with the bikes, it’s really powerful
It’s so emotional that it has an impact on employee engagement and employee retention. It’s above and beyond working.
A bike-build program has all of the pillars for a team-building event. It’s got a goal, roles, fun, communication, competition, collaboration, and problem-solving, plus it’s got building. Everything an organization could want in a team-building program happens in the bike build. All of our charity events have an inherent team-building foundation. It’s a double bonus.
Or there’s our Build-a-Wheelchair® events, often done in collaboration with Disabled American Veterans and other veterans’ support organizations. In one of these programs, a charitable representative came with two retired service members in wheelchairs…that really had an emotional impact on the participants.
For our Project Alzheimer’s™ program—we get calls from people who go to our website and might say, “I just went through this very difficult situation with my mom with Alzheimer’s. And I saw you have an Alzheimer’s program. I know one of my workers is dealing with the same thing. We’re absolutely doing this program.”
All of our CSR programs allow participants to reach out to others. It’s about emotions, caring, company culture, the community. Those are all things that any of our charity programs represent.
Make It Part of Something Bigger
More often than not, our team building program options are a part of a full-day or multi-day offsite employee meeting. In those cases, the company is making a broader investment in enhancing the knowledge and skills of its employees, as well as defining their corporate culture.
Team building is a vital piece of that investment. A CSR program might even be a surprise piece of that because it has such a tremendous impact.
But whether the CSR team building event is hosted in a hotel, conference center, or on the campus of a Fortune 500 company, it enhances company culture in a powerful way.
Make an Impact on Your Community
Some companies allow employees to take a few days off each year, separate from their vacation days, when they’re paid to volunteer for different nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or their local soup kitchen. For employees who value giving back to the community, any type of CSR policy or activity has a powerful impact on loyalty, engagement, and retention.
Again, any type of team building program has a positive impact on employee morale and engagement. But incorporating CSR takes those effects to a higher level.
For any team building or professional development program we deliver, we can end with a surprise CSR component. It’s the best of both worlds when team building is combined with charity.
For example, we’ll take off the tablecloths, and lo and behold, there are all these school supplies. What are these school supplies for? Because we’re going to be putting them into backpacks and donating them.
How about our Golf Build Food Donation program? In two hours, your group gets to build a mini-golf course using canned and boxed goods, play a round of golf with medals to the winners, and then donate all the canned and boxed goods to a local food bank – it doesn’t get any better than that!
BEST CSR activities increase employee loyalty and engagement by enhancing your culture and creating an emotional as well as practical impact.