As Houston residents continue cleaning up the devastation Hurricane Harvey left behind, Florida is still reeling from the fresh destruction of Irma. And companies of all sizes are doing what they can to raise funds and assist in recovery efforts -- an effort that positively affects companies and communities alike.
Those companies are also impacted internally by these efforts, in that they're building stronger teamwork and company bonds. Younger workers in particular may find the fulfillment they’re looking for in their careers, as described by research: ADP’s 2016 Evolution of Work study found that 89 percent of 2,000 employees surveyed said they would choose to work on projects that impact society.
So, perhaps it's time for entrepreneurs to lead their companies to take on projects that go beyond mere cause-related marketing, in which companies collaborate with nonprofits specifically to raise their -- the companies' -- press profile.
Want to make such a move at your company? Here are four stories of courage from Hurricane Harvey’s heroes to inspire you:
1. Form a human chain.
For one woman, the reality and difficulty of childbirth couldn’t have come at a worse time: in the midst of Hurricane Harvey. Fortunately, a group of strangers rallied together, forming a human chain in the floodwaters, to safely transfer the woman from her home to nearby fire trucks.
There’s no doubt this act of teamwork and selflessness saved this woman’s -- and her child’s -- life.
It’s this type of dedication from leaders and their teams that can create an employee experience stronger than that of any other organizational bond. By joining together in charitable work, employees will gain a new sense of confidence in one other that can be transferred to projects they carry out as a team.
A “human chain” can be executed by more than a line of people physically joining together. In order to make a stronger impact on their team and society, leaders need to create their own chain by bringing employees together on a united front.
Ask team members to make a list of their favorite organizations, charities they’re passionate about and ways they’d like to change the world. Then, connect employees who don’t typically work alongside one another by assigning them similar volunteer tasks.
This will encourage new relationships and ignite unity throughout your company. As more team members understand one another across the entire organization, the flow of workplace processes and procedures will improve.
2. Help your neighbors.
Cause-related marketing is often tied to widely known causes. But to make a real impact, go beyond marketing-driven efforts and get to know the smaller charitable needs that exist within your company’s surrounding local community.
For one Hurricane Harvey rescue volunteer, offering his time and efforts was well worth it just to meet his neighbors. “I’ve met more of my neighbors in the last 24 hours than I have in the last 20 years,” Steve Hresko shared in a Telegraph News article.
The impact of meeting his neighbors through this tragedy will likely stay with Hresko forever. Leaders can give their team a similar eye-opening revelation with a truly meaningful employee experience that hits close to home.
Start by looking for the smaller needs that exist in your area. This will show employees that their leadership is invested in more than just marketing and pushing the company’s name. Make an even wider impact by partnering with other local businesses. Plan a charity event supporting a cause close to the team’s heart, and give each employee a task to get involved.
If possible, also offer team members one day off a month to get out and get their hands dirty. Everyone will look forward to an employee experience outside the office. Not to mention that a break from their day-to-day work is just what employees need to get rejuvenated and inspired.
3. Get creative with your product.
Nothing says, “I’m invested in helping a cause” more than a for-profit company stopping or slowing tproduction for a good deed. That’s exactly what Budweiser did when the company slowed its usual beer production during the hurricane in order to contribute much-needed clean water.
“Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations” Bill Bradley, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president for community affairs, told the Telegraph News.
While not every company is capable of producing non-perishables for relief efforts, their skills may be helpful elsewhere in cause-related situations. Get creative with your own company's skills and assets. Sit the entire team down and discuss what skills and resources they could contribute to an emergency effort.
Whether that means computer skills, event planning or even outright labor, a positive employee experience will rely on your team’s ability to join forces during a time of need.
4. Go behind the scenes.
That Telegraph News article mentioned above also included a photo of a sleeping Texas sheriff’s deputy. After working 12 hours straight helping flood victims, this guy had given in to exhaustion.
“This deputy worked 12-plus hours through the night, doing high-water rescues,” another Texas sheriff's deputy posted on Facebook. “Worked until he couldn't stand anymore. This man and hundreds more just like him are out there, saving Texans! Much respect, sir!”
Sometimes, it’s best to leave dangerous situations to the professionals. But that doesn’t mean we can’t support the men and women risking their lives to help our neighbors.
Remember, these heroes are no strangers to dropping everything to help their communities. It’s important to show them how much our company values their sacrifice. As devastating events happen in your local community -- or anywhere in the world -- immediately drop whatever business matters you can and share your and your employees' passion for helping others.
Show that the leaders at your company care more about helping others than the bottom line. Doing that will deeply impact the employee experience. Team members will not only be encouraged to jump in and help, they’ll also feel even more passionate about the company’s mission and values.