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The ROI of Giving Back to our Community

By Jennifer Cortum, SHRM-CP

    CalSHRM Director of Diversity and Inclusion

    Human Resources Manager with Country Club Mortgage

I recently presented on Giving Back to the Community at the Society for Human Resource Manager (SHRM) of Tulare/Kings monthly luncheon.  I was so amazed by the resources and research available, I wanted to share some of my findings with you.  One of the first resources that comes up is The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Their website www.randomactsofkindness.org has a little poem on the front page that I would like to share with you.

Imagine a world.

Where people look out for each other.

Where we all pay it forward.

Where success is measured in selfless acts.

Where kindness is the philosophy of life.

Consider what this might look like in your workplace.  Imagine developing a culture in your organization that values kindness.  A culture that values the different ways in which people interact with each other and their community.  A culture of respect and caring.  Are you ready? If so, let’s set the foundation as to why we want to make a shift in our work culture, and work towards how to build this type of culture.

Research led by Emily Ansell of the Yale University School of Medical shows “that when we help others, we can also help ourselves”.  This same study also revealed “stressful days usually lead us to have a worse mood and poorer mental health, but findings suggest that if we do small things for others, such as holding a door open for some, we won’t feel as poorly on stressful days.”

ROI: People who are less stressed are typically able to produce more.  They are less distracted, have fewer sick days and more often bring a positive mindset to the workplace.

Dacher Keltner tells us in his book BORN to BE GOOD that “people who support and help one another are more likely to develop stronger social bonds and thrive as a community.”  He goes on to state “when you perform random acts of kindness at work, you help build high-quality connections with your team members.”

ROI: There is a significant correlation between employees who are well bonded with co-workers, managers and the philosophy of an organization to sustained engagement.  Sustained engagement is directly tied to quality of work, productivity, retention and the overall success of an organization.

If this is the type of culture you want in your organization, then let’s think about how to make the shift to a culture of kindness.  Ask yourself what you want your workplace to look like.  Consider what is important in the people who work in your organization.  Consider what is important to the leadership of the organization.  Where does a culture of kindness fit with your answers?

Consider if it matters to your organizations’ leadership if team members are engaged.  Are you a business of one?  If so, consider how you can ensure you stay engaged in your core business and provide high quality services or products to your clients.  Consider that it just takes one person to get change started!  Who will be your change champion? 

Random Acts of Kindness should be genuine and be heartfelt.  Can you think of someone in your organization that wants to make a difference in your community and with a little bit of encouragement would be willing to share their ideas with others?  Are you that person? 

Will the leadership of the organization support your efforts?  If organizational leadership were to support their efforts, would that person be willing to consistently perform random acts of kindness that can impact the organization?  There can be more than one change champion, especially depending upon the size of an organization.

Take the time to perform random acts of kindness.  Reach out to encourage others around you, both in your workplace and in your personal life, to make a difference for themselves and their community.  In this way an organization’s culture will shift over time.  Keep the encouragement going, get creative and find ways to value kindness, so the momentum continues.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  •          Send someone a note of appreciation
  •          Eat lunch with a new team member
  •          Participate in a mentoring program
  •          Let someone’s manager know when colleagues have done a good job
  •          Help a co-work when they are struggling with a project
  •          Smile at the people you work with
  •          Go out of your way to support someone who is dealing with a stressful situation
  •          Use your vacation days
  •         Participate in a holiday food drive as a team
  •          Buy the person in line behind you a cup of coffee
  •          Promote your local businesses
  •          Encourage employee volunteerism – make it part of your company culture
  •          Say Thank you and truly mean it
  •          Help someone find a job
  •          Adopt a Brick
  •          Take a walk with a co-worker, your family or friends
  •          Put a basket of fruit from the farmers’ market in your breakroom
  •          Set out a collection jar for someone else’s favorite charity
  •          Give people the benefit of the doubt
  •          Make kindness a priority

By performing random acts of kindness and building a culture of kindness, any size organization can build respect and a good reputation in the community.  This helps to make our community a better place to live, which builds stronger connections and networks.  Organizations who value kindness and make this part of their culture are able to attract and retain higher quality employees and clients because they value and respect leaders who give back to our community.

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