In a 2010 study published in the Perspectives on Psychological Science journal, James K. Harter of Gallup, Inc. found that a low sense of well-being in employees was an indication of poor bottom-line performance. And over the course of a year, that low sense of job satisfaction results in billions of dollars in estimated profit loss in the United States alone.
Happiness, or at least a positive sense of job satisfaction, is nearly as important to a successful business as providing a good product.
Even if you’re a one-man operation, if you’re not satisfied with your daily work routine then you know for a fact that it shows in your job performance and, at the end of the quarter, on your bottom line.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to run out immediately and throw a pizza party for your crew (though that wouldn’t hurt!). Increasing morale can’t be achieved solely with a few dozen cupcakes for birthdays or mandatory casual Fridays. In fact, it’s easier – and cheaper – than that and if instituted on a regular basis, it can help increase your employees’ day-to-day morale significantly.
It’s called Charity.
Giving Back is Good for Business
In recent years, multiple studies have shown that people are happier and more satisfied when they’re altruistic, and a report on findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows a significant link between kind acts to others and stimulation of the mesolimbic system of the brain: the same section of the brain stimulated by positive actions such as receiving money or love.
And the positive impact of participating in charitable activities doesn’t stop with increased job satisfaction. You also get the added benefit of social recognition. When others see your company participating in charitable acts, they see your business in a more positive light and are encouraged to do business with you as, by supporting your company, they are indirectly supporting your charitable activities. It’s a win-win.
Encouraging Altruism in the Workplace
There are a number of ways you can start integrating altruistic activities into your workplace and many of them won’t cost you a dime to get going.
No-cost charitable activities:
- Allow employees to donate a portion of their paycheck automatically to a charity of their choice.
- Leave a donation box in the office for a charity such as a local children’s shelter or soup kitchen. You can even set up seasonal donation drives such as Back to School, Winter Holidays, Memorial or Veteran’s Day for veterans and supporting summer camps for disadvantaged kids.
- Institute a mentorship program with a local school where students can sign up to work with employees and learn about their jobs.
- Take part in your local Adopt-A-Highway program or Clean Sweep, both of which typically take place on the weekends. An added bonus of Adopt-A-Highway is that your company gets a sign on the side of the road showing that you’ve adopted that particular section.
Low-cost charitable activities:
- Sign up to help a local charity during National Volunteer Week, which is typically held in April. Provide company t-shirts to volunteers and pay them regular wages for the day spent volunteering.
- Allow employees to take a certain number of Volunteerism days, where they can work with local charities on a one-on-one basis.
- Match employee donations to a certain amount to encourage additional giving.
- Adopt a local school or non-profit organization and allow employees to sign up for pre-set volunteer days, dedicating a certain percentage of employees to helping the organization on a monthly basis.
- Hold a company-wide fundraiser for a given charity and match what employees are able to raise.
- Encourage employees to participate in a charitable fun run or walk and provide company t-shirts to everyone who participates.
- Keep a photo board at the office of employees participating in charitable events as well as of the people your company is helping. This will help to encourage additional participation and will remind employees of the good they’ve done for others.
Creating your Own Company Charity
For larger companies, you can always take your altruistic activities a step further by starting your own company-run charity. From Amazon to Tom’s of Maine, some of the most active charities in the world have sprung from corporations. The Lyoness Foundation, for example, has founded two international charities: Greenfinity and the Child & Family Foundation. Both were founded on the concept of sustainability: Greenfinity by promoting renewable energy and sustainable environmental protection, and Child & Family by supporting educational facilities and helping those organizations become sustainable programs moving forward.
Of course, starting your own charity doesn’t have to mean creating a multinational organization. You can start right in your own backyard by hosting your own fundraisers such as a company fun run or carnival, with all of the profits going to programs such as the advancement of research into fatal diseases.
The charitable field is wide open. What can your company do to give morale a boost and give back to the community?
Myrna Vaca is the Head of Marketing and Communications at Lyoness America, where she is responsible for marketing, communication and business development efforts. The Lyoness Child & Family Foundation (CFF) is actively involved in supporting children, adolescents and families worldwide, especially in the field of education.