A recent Wall Street Journal article shined a light on how companies are advertising their higher purpose – real or exaggerated – in an effort to attract young workers. It reinforced the emphasis millennials place on working for companies that “make a difference.” More than just earning a paycheck, they want to effect positive change in the world.
I was struck by this piece for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve found that the appeal of a purpose-driven job extends beyond millennials. Boomers like me, and others, are giving back in our personal lives and want to extend philanthropy into our professional lives too, particularly as we start thinking of our legacies.
The topic also got me thinking about how employees can help their companies be a force for good even if the corporation’s core business isn’t focused on philanthropy. The onus doesn’t have to be on the company to dictate good works. You can be the catalyst for the change you want to see in the world through your workplace. Here are a few examples I’ve seen in action:
- Team-building with a purpose – many teams now dedicate part of their annual off-sites or kick-offs to activities with an outcome, like building bicycles or bookshelves for charities or communities in need. Suggest an activity that aligns with the values of your business unit, community or special interest group for your next team meeting. Head out together to volunteer at a food bank or local shelter. You’ll be amazed at how much bonding occurs after spending a few hours together on a project with a higher purpose. Not only that, it’s good for you. According to a health and volunteering study by UnitedHealth Group, 78 percent of people who volunteered in the last year of the study reported lower stress levels, and 76 percent said that volunteering made them feel healthier.
- Sports-based fundraising – walkathons, marathons, and bike rides for a cure abound. Ask your colleagues to join you in a charitable race. You’ll be contributing to a cause while performing other acts proven to make you all feel good – being outdoors and getting moving. I suggested that to my fellow Blue Beyond colleagues, and now we’re training together to participate in the Silicon Valley Tour de Cure to support the fight against diabetes. Not only did my colleagues love the idea, the company is sponsoring our participation!
- Matching gifts – a number of companies match employee donations to their preferred charities on an annual basis. Find out if your company has a matching gift program. If they don’t, suggest one. Even if your company isn’t targeting its efforts toward making the world a better place, you can channel part of your paycheck in a meaningful direction.
Look around. You probably can’t end world hunger, but you can create a taste for goodwill – right where you are.