I’m certainly no Mother Teresa, but I have tried to be a decent community citizen my
From door knocking for the Red Cross during high school to donating clothes to Dressed for Success as a grown-up; I’ve always liked finding ways of helping others and doing a little bit of good in the world.
But aside from the nice feeling I get from knowing I’m doing something for the community, I also learn a lot from my experiences. Sometimes I get to use my professional skills and transfer them to a new context and sometimes I’m just completely winging it and creating some new neural pathways!
COVID has caused an altruistic perfect storm.
Our community consciousness has been heightened significantly through our shared adversity AND organisations have (mostly) realised that chaining people to their desks isn’t the most effective driver of productivity and that perhaps a level of flexibility to working hours is in order.
So not only are people more aware of doing good deeds and helping those less fortunate, but they now have the time and energy to actually get involved and help because they aren’t commuting 4.7 hours each day. Hooray!
And I can hear the collective sighs from certain managers... We already HAD to give people flexibility to care for their pesky kids, and now you’re saying we should give them flexibility to be do-gooders too?
I SURELY AM!
And the reason is two-fold.
Firstly, Altruistic acts are great for engagement and workplace culture.
Doing good stuff and helping others is a great unifier. It makes people feel good. It connects them to something bigger than just processing an invoice or serving a customer or drafting a letter. Teams who engage in altruistic acts are more collaborative and generally kinder to each other with reduces conflict and can help create the utopian sense of psychological safety.
If you’ve tried everything to shift the needle on your employee engagement with no luck, perhaps its time to consider adding a little heart into your workplace?
A few years ago my local team decided to donate bags to Share the Dignity for their Xmas drive.
It was an awesome experience. We each found a handbag lurking in our wardrobe that we could donate and filled it with practical and luxury goodies to help a woman in need.
We only created 5 of the 100,000+ bags they received that year, but we each took huge pride in making a bag we’d love to receive. It was such a nice thing to do together.
I’ve seen teams agree to donate a portion of their team bonus if they hit their KPIs to a local charity of choice. I’ve seen teams use their social budget to donate time and money to local soup kitchens. I’ve seen boxes appear in kitchens for canned food drives or to end period poverty. I’ve seen organisations give each employee 2 days a week to volunteer with a charity of choice.
These initiatives don’t have to cost the earth, but they sure help make it a better place to live!
Secondly, people learn transferable skills.
Your team members are learning new skills and it’s costing you nothing (or next to nothing) so the ROI is pretty solid!
But what does hosing out dog runs have to do with my accountancy business? I hear you ask.
Look, it’s not always a direct link, but team-work, resilience, creative problem solving, communication, client service and leadership skills can all be developed in other environments.
I’ve personally learned a ton through my volunteering:
Annual gift-wrapping for CPL (formerly Cerebral Palsy League)
Working collaboratively with others
Creative problem solving (ever tried to wrap a watering can?)
Customer service and communication
Coordinating Pine Rivers Community Playgroup
Seeking donations from individuals and businesses
Delegating and leading other volunteers
Financial management skills
Coaching through Jobs For Australia
Communicating complex ideas in simple ways
LinkedIn profile knowledge
Resilience (my own and for my coachees)
Working within a completely remote team
Some of those skills I’ve used in my professional career but had to apply to a new environment which has been challenging. Other skills, like marketing and grant writing, I’d never had exposure to and had to learn through research and by observing others.
I’ve seen legal staff volunteer at community legal centres and get exposure to areas of law outside their usual practice. I’ve seen non-leaders demonstrate excellent leadership capability in volunteer roles. I’ve seen people lacking confidence in their verbal communication skills nail presentations to community groups.
In this environment where ‘adaptability’ is key, enabling people to go and gain new skills or utilise their existing skills in a new way makes a lot of sense!
COVID has certainly changed the job market and likely also the budgets for professional development activities. People will be craving new opportunities to obtain new skills and experience; but the usual ‘let’s run a training day’ or ‘I’ll just find a new job’ solutions can’t be as readily relied on.
Volunteering can be an excellent solution!
Convinced and ready to roll? As a leader you can:
Find a community organisation aligned with what you do and create a partnership.
Buy a big plastic tub and each quarter donate items to a local food, homeless, family violence, period poverty charity.
Arrange your annual ‘offsite’ activity to be community centred instead. Try a soup kitchen or animal refuge instead of disco bowling or putt-putt.
Work with your Payroll team to create a workplace giving program where employees can elect to donate $5 each pay to a kitty that is distributed to nominated charities each year.
Find community centred suppliers who give back through their operations; for example Humantix if you sell tickets to events or a catering company who donates left over food to food charities.
Better yet, get your team involved.
Explain that you want to do something with a community focus and ask them what they’d like to participate in. You can even delegate the task to someone in your team so they have the opportunity to learn some new skills through administering the initiatives!
If you’d love to infuse a little altruism in your team but aren’t sure where to start, book a 30m complimentary call with me and let’s tease out some ideas together!
You can book a time here: