Why Businesses Should Care about Their Community and EmployeesAshley
What obligation, if any, does a business-to-business company or a branch of an international corporation have to its local community? It’s easy for a business to contribute to charity as they would an investment; they portion off as little of their resources as they can, hoping to attract customers or employees through the façade of caring. Sometimes contributions can start off well-intentioned, but it can be hard for business leaders to operate outside of the best interests of the company. Is this a bad thing though? If a company helps the community and gets something out of it, thereby incentivizing it to continue its contributions, what does it matter?
The reason a business should care for its local community is the culture and mindset it fosters, along with realizing that it is part of the local community that should give back when possible. A culture of caring for the community naturally leads to a culture of caring for employees and coworkers; when companies believe they should help those outside of its walls, they normally help those inside its walls as well. Taking care of employees beyond a paycheck is crucial to job performance and employee retention in this new era of employers playing a role in fulfilling more than just financial needs of its workers. This is not something that millennials and Generation Z have brought into focus; age has been shown to be a non-factor in studies of what drives employee contentment. Career, community, and cause are all prioritized by workers above salary. This means that it is up to management to discover how to engage employees in the workplace and community. Employees who are engaged in work outperform non-engaged employees by 202% – this should be enough to make any manager seriously consider catering to all their employees’ needs, not just financial needs.
Even managers who only focus on the bottom line should think about caring for their employees; studies show that things like physical comfort, ample natural lighting, and a comfortable atmosphere boost productivity and increase profits. Once a company has a culture of giving to the community, it is much easier to implement policy changes such as mental health days, better healthcare, and employee nights out which also contribute to employee (and employer) success. It can be difficult for people to care about others who don’t care about them; why would a business be any different? If a business invests in the wellbeing of its employees, the employees will invest in and contribute to company success. From 1984 to 2011, companies named one of the “best places to work” earned 2.3% to 3.8% more in stock returns annually.1 Meeting employees’ needs naturally leads to employee retention as well; if increased productivity, better employee retention, and a better bottom line aren’t enough to prove that workplace culture is important, you may want to take some management courses!
One of the keys to success in community engagement efforts is consistency. Working with a single organization regularly is a great idea, but not necessary if some employees would rather contribute to other organizations. An idea for a company that doesn’t know where to start is to have employees contribute ideas for local charities to support. This will help employees feel more involved in company decisions, and they will be more likely to help the charity if they know they or a coworker has a strong interest in the charity. A kickoff event is a good idea too; advertising the beginning of what will become monthly, quarterly, or biannual fundraisers as a big celebration plants the idea of a change in culture. Consistency also fosters a mindset of caring for community and employees, as opposed to feeling obligated to run.
Productivity is shown to increase in a workplace that has both physical and environmental comfort. Comfortable chairs, natural lighting, and color are all shown to have positive effects on employee morale and performance.3 Every employee is different, so allowing them to customize their workspace as well as listening to their input for office improvements are great ideas. The environment does not stop at aesthetics though – health insurance, flexible schedules, recognition for hard work, mentorship programs, work-life balance, wellness programs, and efficient communication are all proven to increase employee retention and potency. Things as simple as putting plants in the office, as weird as allowing pets, and as common as giving large and/or unexpected bonuses are shown to skyrocket profits. Increasing vacation days, having real lunch breaks, being lenient in inclement weather, and even offering a paid day off for birthdays improve morale as well. Each of these things are customizable for businesses of every size, so get together with your team and start brainstorming!
Here at GLE Precision, we care for our community and believe that our employees are our greatest asset. It takes years or even decades to learn the techniques we employ daily to create precision tolerances and mirror-like surfaces on parts smaller than a human hair. It would be devastating to our business if our longest-tenured employees decided to leave; we have worked hard to combat this, and our shop employees and supervisors have been here for over 22 years on average. Each year we run multiple fundraisers (letting our employees choose the local charity to which we contribute the funds), sponsor Little League and FIRST Robotics teams, and are currently planning some community volunteering events. We are also heavily investing in the office morale through improvements such as new paint, a soon-to-come 3D sign on our office wall, and recently rearranged our office for more natural lighting. We have top-of-the-line benefits for a company of our size and regularly reward success with bonuses, catered lunches, and even cookouts, and we see the benefits daily.