Targeted community engagement programs can add value to the NFPs, businesses and staff members involved.
Former Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CEO Jim Copeland Jr was on the mark when he said that the "best professionals in the world ... want to work for companies that exhibit good corporate citizenship".It's a factor of employment and career planning that's especially important to gen Y, with a research study by the Strategic Planning and Consumer Insights division of AMP Agency showing that 79 per cent (of gen Y) want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts (on) and contributes to society.
If good corporate citizenship matters, then leaders need to consider the following.
• How do you motivate employees by engendering in them a sense of pride in their workplace?
• How can you attract and retain good staff by providing a fun and inspiring workplace?
• How do the different business areas work together towards a common goal?
• What would you say to a prospective gen Y employee when asked how the company gives back to the community?
One way to address all these questions is by establishing a community engagement program.
During the past five years I have witnessed a trend towards companies choosing to work strategically with one or a small number of not-for profit partners as part of their CEP. Companies are using a strategic approach to maximise the social impact of their involvement by focusing their efforts in a few core areas, rather than having a scattergun approach to philanthropy.
The right partner
There are many ways to go about selecting suitable NFP partners. A popular way is to survey staff and find out what social causes the team is passionate about – health, wildlife conservation, homeless services or youth development, for example.
Once the most popular causes are identified you can then identify not for profits that work in that space and then approach them to see how they can add value to your business.
Another approach is to align your company values and core business with the work of a not for profit. For example, the Leukaemia Foundation works with the National Roads & Motorists' Association (NRMA) whose values include 'help' and 'community'. NRMA is well known for its roadside assistance program and this connected well with our patient transport service.
NRMA's partnership includes the provision of two of our patient transport vehicles in Sydney, and patrolmen volunteer their time to drive patients and their families to and from treatment on a regular basis.
The best CEPs are mutually beneficial and often involve more than one component. When looking for an NFP partner, explore the different levels at which you can work together. You may decide to invest funds through a donation or sponsorship to support a particular charitable program. This can be then augmented by a wide variety of staff engagement activities that can include volunteering, holding fundraising events and workplace giving.
Think how you can best leverage the partnership to increase brand awareness or enhance the brand image. Communicate the great work you are doing with your customers through social media, your website and newsletters.
No short cuts
We have found, from experience, that when senior managers actively champion the CEP, the results are amplified. For example the general manager of Dick Smith led by example and shaved her head as part of the World's Greatest Shave. This act of leadership inspired her staff, boosted morale and fostered a sense of teamwork within the organisation.
If you would like to attract, motivate and retain the best employees then a CEP is an invaluable tool. It is increasingly important to employees to feel that they are working for a business that is giving back to the community. It is not difficult or expensive to set up such a program, and your business will also reap other benefits such as enhancing your brand image with customers and differentiating your brand from your competitors.
Richard GardnerBusiness development manager NSW