Why Community Engagement is Important for Employee Relations

Diverse group of volunteers.

One important key to maintaining vital employees and ensuring that your organization is happy is health. But many managers don’t realize that getting employees out of the office and away from their jobs may be just as important to keeping them engaged as staying in the office and cracking the proverbial whip.

Think about it: employee relations, known historically as industrial relations, is concerned with the contractual, emotional, physical and practical relationship between employer and employee. But too often in our work history, the cliché has been to work employees to the bone, extracting every ounce of energy and effort they possess until they just can’t do it anymore.

That was the old world. Today, there are no gold watches, very few successful retirements at a relatively young age, and very few resumes that reflect decades of loyalty to an employer.

The world has changed. So, …

How do we successfully maintain the emotional, physical and practical relationship between employer and employee?

There are lots of ways to successful engage employees in a modern fashion but one successful strategy that is gaining in popularity is unchaining employees from their desk and encouraging them to get out in the world.

Delving into Social Responsibility

Group of people ranging in ages planting a tree.

So big corporations have started investing heavily in a concept called “Corporate Social Responsibility.” If it sounds kind of complicated, the short answer is that it is, and it isn’t. Here’s the important thing for small businesses and entrepreneurs to remember: employees have a life outside the office. And you can make that life better by encouraging them to go help others as part of their work life.

Social responsibility on the part of the company is about way more than just donating a few bucks to good causes every now and then. Social responsibility on the part of a company is about investing in demonstrating that your organization—and more importantly, your people—are a part of the community you operate in.

The Power of Volunteerism

Here’s the kicker—everyone knows that volunteering is good for the community. Most people don’t know that volunteerism is good for business. Even during these booming economic times, community needs are high and corporate training budgets and employee relations budgets can be better used for engaging employees in real, sweat-inducing efforts and a whole bunch less trust falls.

More and more companies are discovering the power of volunteerism to raise their company and brand profile, engage employees in creative ways, and prepare high-performing employees for leadership positions, not only within their companies, but within their communities. Think about all those mail delivery professionals who go on to compete in the Olympics. There’s no way to put a price tag on that kind of publicity.

Young adults volunteering by picking up trash.

Civic engagement programs offer opportunities for employees to actively engage in community life, to participate in teambuilding projects, and to gain experience that increases skills. Look, this doesn’t mean you have to hire an in-house volunteer coordinator or arbitrarily designate some manager to create some kind of artificial team building exercise.

Instead, take the pulse of your employees. See what kinds of community issues they really care about. That’s the important part. Whether it’s taking care of kids in your local hospital or helping the wide diversity of people in our community who could use a helping hand, there are tons of ways for your organization to help.

But be organized. If you have a local volunteer center or community organization that can help you engage your employees, take advantage of that resource. Company engagement with the community improves business performance, employee skill enhancement and leadership development, which directly impacts the bottom line.

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