Shawn Parr: Connecting Employees To A Common Good

Even within a small company, departments can divide the whole if not anchored in the organization’s sense of purpose and operating values.

What do you think your employees really have in common? If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is likely that it’s not much beyond an interest in your company. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as employees come from all walks of life. It’s important to have diverse thinking and interests, but shared values and a common purpose are also a must to foster a cohesive community of people within the walls of an organization. Walk from the finance department to the marketing department, from sourcing to engineering and more, and you’ll see the differences that exist. Even within a small company, departments can divide the whole if not anchored in the organization’s common purpose and operating values.

As a result of globalization, many companies have employees located in different cities, states and even countries, allowing cultural differences to be magnified. Even as remote workspace and mobile technology allow for more physical separation, society as a whole is searching for ways to create unity around common and shared passions. A statistic released in 2013 shows that 37% of consumers and employees want to feel the unity that stems from local causes, 35% want to feel it nationally, and 28% globally. Humanity has a shared desire to unite our communities, our countries and the people inside of companies.

Common good makes for good business

Companies with a social conscience that act, innovate and mobilize around social needs are no longer unique revolutionaries—they are part of the new normal. When executed well, the power of engaging employees in, and around a common cause that’s connected to the core business is a very powerful force for good for both the business and the world at large. We work alongside major corporations, social entrepreneurs and non-profits, and there is absolutely no shortage of inventive approaches to engaging in the common good. Ingenuity that connects the resources of a corporation to solutions that deliver an impact are plentiful, but at times we see corporations struggle around ways to clearly articulate a strategy that makes sense to stakeholders and key players.

Common good gives profits a greater purpose

As part of our strategic work, I recently met the founders of Profits4Purpose, a technology business that helps companies create a united and simple giving platform. Their solution is built on the belief that there is power in connecting relationships and sharing experiences, and by empowering individuals through their platform they help companies increase their social impact on the world. Profits 4 Purpose started their business to accelerate and simplify the process for businesses that want to engage their employees in social good.

Profits 4 Purpose uses a “match.com” model where they connect employee interests with needs and opportunities in communities. They also empower employees to create personal interest groups that others can join, share and watch results. The platform enables companies to create a customized workplace giving destination, providing employees with personalized giving schedules (and personalized trust funds). They also provide tools that match employee interests and skills with local non-profits and streamline all grant, sponsorship and donation requests. Users receive access to a dashboard with thousands of volunteer opportunities, the ability to create personal giving foundations and activity walls displaying the impact being made in real time—all delivered with a simple approach to creating relational and innovative common wealth.

Recently, Staples partnered with Profit 4 Purpose to offer their employees a voice as to where corporate donations are shared. Through their platform, Staples employees see their impact on a local and global level. In a company that is 100,000 strong, the unified voice rings loudly.

Mobilize your employees for the common good

If you look at the world of business today, it seems that most organizations fall into one of the following groups: those that have seamlessly connected their business to a common good and a dedicated cause, like Warby Parker, FEED, Toms Shoes and Krochet Kids. And companies like Target, Whole Foods and Southwest Airlines that have a foundation or a focus on social good that is directly linked back to the communities they serve. Then there are other companies that are actively giving back and helping to make a difference in the world—but are not inventive in how they connect their common good to their internal culture or consumer community. Regardless of which group your company falls into, there’s always an opportunity to connect and engage employees at a deeper level to ensure that the pursuit of the common good is driving common wealth.

Connecting to the common good makes common sense

It’s clear that today’s emerging workforce wants to make more than a living, they want to make a difference—and this is especially true for employees between ages 20-35 who will contribute to the common good with or without the support of their employers. A technology platform like Profit 4 Purpose can help ensure that employees get the support they need from their employers to help make a positive impact on the world.

Shawn Parr is the CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego. Clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND.

[Image: Flickr user doritbz]

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