Generosity begets generosity, but in the corporate world where the bottom line is paramount, it might not always be a top priority. Even though it might not tie directly to bottom-line results, fostering a company culture where people are inspired to do good deeds for others can pay off.
It can help employers attract talent, particularly millennials who comprise an increasingly large percentage of the workforce and have demonstrated a collective commitment to advance social causes and give philanthropically. A culture of generosity also can create stronger connections, not only among employees but also between employees and their companies and communities — which can translate to a stronger commitment to their work and to longer stays with their companies, according to research by Fortune and Great Place to Work.
If you want to work on building a generous culture among your employees, company and broader community, here are some ideas to help you get started.
Donate a Percentage of Profits
Some companies exist to give. For example, 100 percent of profits from Newman’s Own go to charity. Salesforce, the No. 1 company on Fortune’s list of 50 best workplaces for giving back, earned its spot through its commitment to give 1 percent of its time, product and equity back to the communities where does business.
In addition to giving back directly by donating profits to charity, many companies promote a culture of generosity through their commitment to pro bono work. In the last four years, for example, Deloitte’s employees completed more than 1,000 projects of this kind. Others offer generous matching programs or grants, matching each charitable gift an employee makes with a charitable gift from the company.
Provide Paid Time Off for Volunteer Work
It’s one thing to encourage employees to do volunteer work on their own time. It’s another thing altogether to create designated paid time off days specifically so that employees can volunteer. Salesforce provides seven days off per year for volunteer activities alone. Intuit provides four days of paid time off so that employees can help out with local causes.
Some companies take promoting a spirit of volunteerism to the next level. NuStar has a volunteer council that organizes and leads company-sponsored events for organizations in the community. The events are required to occur during normal work hours, and employees have donated nearly 10,000 hours to these causes. Patagonia not only provides time off but also pays for select employees to complete internships benefiting environmental causes.
Promote Charitable Giving
There are many ways companies can promote a culture of generosity through charitable giving. Some companies have programs in place that allow employees to promote the charity of their individual choice on a rotating basis. For example, every Friday at many companies, employees are asked to chip in a small amount in exchange for wearing jeans to the office to benefit a local charity or cause selected by another employee.
Many companies have traditionally adopted campaigns through the United Way to benefit local causes. Others have annual employee appeals that benefit their own company foundation. And some even have foundations that not only are funded by employees but also are directed to programs or causes of employees’ choosing. Veterans United is an example of a company that has such an employee-funded foundation in place.
Support Nonprofits in Your Communities
Companies can make commitments to work as partners with organizations in their communities or that align closely with their mission and business goals. They can sponsor events. Employees can serve on boards for local organizations or volunteer in other capacities.
Generosity has ample benefits. Take advantage of those benefits by cultivating generosity at your company and see those benefits carry over to help create a happier, more productive and engaged workforce — and stronger community.