COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

By: Gene Kruger, Branch Manger-Dickinson

Community involvement is a subject that is overlooked by most organizations. Community could be defined as a group of people that are gathered to achieve a common goal. Involvement could be defined as supplying resources to help a community achieve their goal. Resources could be provided as financial, labor or products that companies produce. The next question that gets asked is why should my company get involved? The answer to the question takes many different avenues. The first might be that it would distinguish and separate you from your competitors. When a community sees your company taking a genuine interest in the community, they are more likely to do business or recommend your business to their friends and colleagues.

The second is that statistics show that businesses that get involved in their community have happier, more energetic employees that are more likely to stay engaged in their jobs which aids

in employee retention. With unemployment so low, anything that a company can do to help with keeping their employees is a bonus. Another reason to get involved is that it puts your company name in a positive mindset with the community. When a community sees who gets involved, they are more likely to have a positive image in their minds about you and your company. This can also help broaden your client base. People like to do business with people that care about their community. When should you get involved? The first thing you should do is find out what your employees are passionate about and what their area of expertise is. A good example of this is I am a competitive bowler and have studied all aspects of the game. I volunteer my time in teaching the junior high and high school bowling teams. Youth programs are a great way to give back to the community. They typically are always looking for help and expertise in these areas. By asking your employees what they are passionate about and knowing their expertise, you can develop a plan to get your employees and company involved in a community project.

Once a project has been decided on, you then can figure out how much involvement you want to contribute. Maybe it’s giving an employee a few paid hours of time so they can volunteer on the project. Maybe it’s a sponsorship or donation to a project. Perhaps you may even go as far as sitting on a board or committee for an upcoming project. Many companies have people who volunteer their time for trade association board and committees that pertains to their business, but getting involved in other area will make your company stand out and show the community that you care about things other than your bottom line.

Another good reason to get your employees involved in a community event is that it promotes teamwork. When your employees are outside their scope of work, they tend to let their guard down and be open for duties that may be outside their comfort zone. Another thing that volunteering does, it can bring out leadership skills in some people. Maybe someone who hasn’t shown leadership abilities in the office may shine in a community project and may help them in their everyday duties to develop those skills. Being involved in community projects may also help in the recruiting of new employees. People who see you and your company caring about their community will give you more consideration when they are looking for a career change.

It doesn’t matter what project you decide to get your company and employees involved in, there are many benefits that can come from such involvement. One last thing to mention is that whatever project you chose, make sure the rest of the community knows that the project is going on. Platforms like social media and newspaper and radio are great ways to let people know what is going on, plus can give you and your company some extra advertising at a minimal cost to you.

Go ahead and find the projects that will show the strengths and passion of your employees and lets the community know you care about your community, and you will see many rewards through out your organization.