Small Giants share six common qualities: purpose, leadership, culture, finance, relationships, and community. While qualities like company culture and effective leadership are hot topics in the business community, many wonder what role community relationships have in building a great company.
While it’s commonly accepted that businesses should ‘give back’ to the communities to which they belong, Small Giants cultivate much deeper relationships to their communities. What Bo Burlingham identified in his book Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big has grown into a Community of purpose-driven leaders who understand why community matters, how it increases employee engagement, and how to cultivate community engagement within their organizations.
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Why Community is a Small Giants Quality
By prioritizing concepts like purpose, values, and vision, Small Giants companies have an opportunity that fast-growing, larger companies do not: they have the time and control to contribute something great and unique to their communities. As Bo Burlingham first articulated in his book, Small Giants develop strong community relationships that are a two-way street and, in the businesses he profiled, “the community helped mold the character of the business, just as the companies played an important role in the life of the community.”
When companies put other, more satisfying goals ahead of growth for growth’s sake, they are able to build a business with soul — an organization that is intimately involved with the local community in which it does business. The unique relationships that Small Giants develop with their communities are multi-facted, creative, and deeply rewarding for everyone involved.
How Community Relationships Increase Employee Engagement
Businesses that develop deep roots in their communities cultivate relationships that yield meaningful, lasting benefits for the company, employees, and the community. The relationships you develop with your community will often overlap with your relationships to your customers and your employees. Whether it’s finding a great new hire, landing a new client, or finding a solution to a business challenge, there are a multitude of ways that community involvement strengthens relationships throughout your business.
In particular, strong community relationships are a powerful way to cultivate employee engagement. Your employees are members of the community, and belonging to an organization that is committed to their community is motivating and empowering. A study from Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy found that organizations that are “doing good” for their communities benefited from significantly more engaged employees — and the more hands-on employees were able to be, the higher their engagement scores.
Small Giants go beyond typical corporate citizenship initiatives and instead embrace a philosophy that empowers employees to pursue opportunities to be a good neighbor, do good work, and involve the company in the community. The business result? Loyal, engaged employees who are invested in the success of the organization.
How Small Giants Build Community Relationships
Most organizations already give back to their communities in one way or another. Take it a step further by formalizing your commitment to your community through new initiatives that will foster community engagement. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Implement a paid Volunteer Day program. As part of your personal time-off benefits, include a paid day off for volunteer work. Encourage employees to volunteer together or look for individual opportunities that are meaningful to them. Struggling with engagement? Appoint a Community Champion who feels strongly about the cause to help coordinate involvement.
Create a platform to share experiences. Identify a clear path for employees to share out their volunteer efforts, whether it’s via email, during team meetings, or displaying event photos in the office. Sharing is a great way to learn what makes your employees tick and foster relationships across teams.
Match employee charitable donations. Throughout the year, your employees are making personal donations to the organizations that are close to their hearts. Institute a matching program to deepen your relationship with your employees and show that the organization backs them and what they care about.
Donate your space for local events. Open your office to local non-profits and organizations to host their events and meetings. This keeps your organization closely connected to a variety of community groups and their members, and helps keep your ties to the community strong.
Measure community involvement. While gathering employee anecdotes is a great start, there are other ways to track community involvement. Write a vision statement for your company’s relationship with the community, and set measurable goals for what success will look like. What is your participation goal? How many hours will you donate? How much money will you raise? Set your benchmarks for success and create a strategy for how you will achieve it.
Looking to make an even greater impact in your business and community?