Everyone’s shopping for the holidays, and corporations are no different. ’Tis the season of corporate gift giving to employees. Many of my friends have received chocolate, baked goods, gift cards and other items that are nice tokens of thanks -- but, to me, they are also, well, predictable and somewhat generic. Instead of giving employees the usual, I like the idea of charitable giving for the holidays because it makes a gift more personal and impactful. Charitable gifts or actions go beyond the gift giver and the recipient.
Applying the rule of six degrees of separation, every employee has a connection to some cause or charity. Maybe a loved one was ill and a nonprofit organization provided support and care. Perhaps someone found a new best friend at a local animal shelter. Maybe a friend was afflicted by a natural disaster and needed assistance from a rescue and recover group. And, I talk with people all the time who want to volunteer but have trouble finding time.
With these things in mind, I suggest that companies try a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)-inspired approach to gift giving:
Charitable giving and volunteering are also good for the company bottom line. Forbes reported that “CSR is a way for companies to benefit themselves while also benefiting society.” CSR activities raise employee morale. According to a Network for Business Sustainability article, “employees who are satisfied with the organization’s commitment to social and environmental responsibilities demonstrate more commitment, engagement and productivity.”
So, boss, forget the chocolates this year (unless they are fair trade certified, with a portion of the proceeds aiding source farmers), and instead empower employees with something more meaningful.