During a cold November night, you wouldn't expect the CEO of Samsung U.S. to be out on a New Jersey street bundled up and shivering. But that's exactly what Tim Baxter did to raise funds for Covenant House, a nonprofit that helps homeless children. With Baxter's help, the organization raised nearly $500,000 for this cause. Baxter's good deed is the perfect example of corporate social responsibility, and you and your team can give back in a similar way. In fact -- you absolutely should.
Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, particularly applies to the holiday season because it means taking some time away from focusing on making a profit and making an effort to give back. While this is popular for the holidays, it deserves a regular presence in your company -- and it's up to you as the leader to set the tone and encourage your employees to get involved.
Here are some tips for getting involved in your community and giving back:
1. Lead by example.
Take a lesson from Baxter -- you have to personally participate in volunteer or fundraising events. By demonstrating your interest and passion in supporting a particular cause, you are leading by example and your team will likely follow suit. Demonstrate a determined work ethic and focus, and it will translate well back in the office.
2. Promote cross-departmental teams in this effort.
This is a great chance for employees who do not normally interact with one another to become acquainted. If the situation allows, pair up employees that seem to be on opposite ends of your organization -- creatives and customer service reps, marketing with sales, even executives and window washers.
This will actually benefit your company in the long run by promoting an overall sense of unity and help breakdown any silos and communication barriers.
3. Don't be overly concerned with public relations.
Some leaders participate in corporate social responsibility activities as an obligation, because it is expected that companies should give back. They flood their social media channels with photos, videos, and blogs to explain how nice they were to help out, which is fine from a PR point of view.
Here, the focus is on the task and the good you are doing in helping people. In fact, Tim Baxter didn't want his good deeds to be public knowledge for quite some time. Remember that you are helping out real people and strengthening your team in ways that can't be done inside the walls of the office.
4. Return to work with a smile.
Devin Thorpe, founder of Your Mark on the World Center and Forbes contributor interviewed 59 business leaders about CSR and 51 of them believed their employees were happier after participating in these projects.
Thorpe isn't the only one to find evidence that volunteering and giving back to the community makes people happier. Countless scientific studies show that those who help others are happier in general. If you enable your team to feel good about what they do, they will return to the office more empowered and better focused on business results.
5. Consider your product as a tool for giving back.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Duracell accomplished what others could not -- they provided power to those in the affected areas. Their Power Forward initiative sent out relief vehicles and gave away free batteries to residents with no power. It's safe to say that those people will not forget the good that Duracell provided during their time of need.
Think about how your product and service could help others. This is a good starting point in trying to decide how to help the community. Additionally, consider the needs of your local area. What are the problems people face?
Think about how your company's product or service can help in an effective way, and your employees will be on board. In fact, you can engage your employees in the process and ask them for suggestions as to how your company might contribute.
CSR efforts have the potential to do real good for both your company and community. Of course, you can position your organization as one that cares about the planet and people, but your employees will feel genuinely good about helping others and gain respect for you as a leader that has a human side.