When I’m looking to hire an employee, I always look for someone well rounded. Why? If you spend
your nights watching TV, you’re a lot less interesting to me as an employee than if you’re a software engineer AND a skydiver AND you volunteer with the Cancer Society because your sister is now in remission. I know that active engineer has a lot of experiences to draw from. He brings different perspectives and skill sets and problem solving strategies into the company besides just the ones he learned as a software engineer. Employees who volunteer, in particular, show themselves to be people who willingly take on responsibility and care about something beyond the paycheck.
I bring all this up because ValentineHR is going to be in the Austin Chamber of Commerce ChamberFest tomorrow and it got me thinking about community involvement. Austin is all about community involvement. Any organization that wants to build a sustainable future here has to build relationships beyond business relationships. They have to serve on some boards, clean up Ladybird Lake, walk for the Ronald McDonald House, work on a Habitat for Humanity house. Something!
There’s a clear business interest here in terms of building a good reputation for your organization. But there are other business advantages, too. For me, getting involved in the community, serving on boards and volunteering gives me insight about what other small and medium sized businesses need in terms of HR. Of course I listen to my clients, but I’m interested in what other needs or trends are growing out there that we could be addressing. Then there’s the employee growth part of it. If your employees are working 60-to-70 hours a week, their lives are going to be wrapped around your company and that’s not always a healthy thing. It can breed a weird dependency on the company when everything your employees do—work and social—is about the company. That a lot of responsibility.
Of course, a lot of small startup companies are hyper focused and need employees to be engaged more than 40 hours a week, but even many of these, I’ve seen it, offer paid days off for employees to volunteer in the community. I once worked for a startup that just couldn’t do that. We were all working crazy hours and everybody loved the idea of taking a day to go build a house for Habitat for Humanity but it just wasn’t possible.
Instead, we did the Angel Tree project. Employees only had to give money, the HR department handled buying all the gifts and getting them to the Salvation Army. Employees gave so much money, the company was able to double the number of families it had originally planned to help. Everybody loved it and we felt a part of the community even though we couldn’t do a volunteer day.
I think though, that community connection is something every organization should consider when pondering:
- What is my vision for this company?
- What do I want to tie my energy and money to?
- What kind of outside interests work with this organization?
- What kinds of employees do I want—those who are only focused on work or those who are involved outside of work?
Really, just like a self-absorbed employee, a self-absorbed organization just isn’t going to go that far.
Inspired now and looking for a cause?– check out VolunteerMatch.org
And come see us at the ChamberFest tomorrow!
October 3, 2013
4:00pm – 7:30pm
Marchesa Hall and Theatre , 6406 North IH-35, Suite 3100, Austin, Texas 78752