Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Giving Back as a Company

One of the nicest things that my company does is a month of giving back to the community. They help build houses, paint a community center, provide food and other supplies to homeless and battered women shelters, and volunteer with kids. It's a company-organized month of events that begins with a kick-off event sponsored by the leadership team.

Part of the greatness of this month is the ability to give back to the community. It's an easy way to gain goodwill and brand recognition in the area and to give back. And part of the greatness certainly has to do with allowing employees time off to do activities like this. While most of the time, taking off a day to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity (or a similar group) would seem like an odd request of free time, this month allows employees to take off this time guilt free.

There are only two issues that arise from this that Human Resources needs to be aware of to make sure this is a great month for everyone involved. First, make sure that managers aren't going to make employees feel guilty for taking off the time. You cannot say that they are supposed to participate out of one mouth but then tell them they are missing too much work out of another. And second, you need to make sure the charities chosen are ones that make everyone comfortable contributing. Religiously affiliated groups or environments where it may be potentially dangerous for employees is not one you want to be mandating employees go to. And lastly you need to make sure that this volunteering is just that--voluntary. Employees should be encouraged to participate but cannot be punished or looked down upon if they choose not to (especially if the event has any monetary element).

If done right, this type of month can be one that not only allows the company and their employees to give back, but can boost employee morale quite a bit by allowing them to do something nice for others in the community. I'm certainly looking forward to it.


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