I read a recent article from ABC News that reinforces what we’ve heard for years; that American workers work more than anyone in the industrialized world. We take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later.
With that in mind and considering how other aspects of daily living keep us grinding, how can we possibly find time for meaningful community engagement? One way is to be more efficient with our time and resources. Consider getting involved in community engagement projects through your job.
As an Influencer
If you lead an organization and have access to resources, consider engaging in projects that connect your business to issues, events, or causes that are important to you. It’s an opportunity to strengthen your brand and raise your profile in the community that you serve. You’ll inspire your staff by creating team-building opportunities that bring multiple departments or constituencies together for a higher purpose.
I decided to do this in my own shop by introducing a project that met our mission, contributed to work productivity, and created meaningful community engagement. We decided to use our capacity as a journalistic organization to spend a year reporting on the growing poverty rate in our community. Having grown up in Section 8 housing most of my childhood, it is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. The City Limits Poverty Project involves the entire staff from reporters and producers to development staff to marketing and communications to front office. The team felt a sense of pride and purpose that combined professional and personal interests. It has also generated positive press and professional recognition for the organization.
Choose a project, identify resources, and build a team for the greater good in your community. Your customers and constituents will feel good about their support for your organization and your staff will appreciate the opportunity for community engagement without impacting the busy home life. It’s far bigger impact than making an anonymous donation.
As a Team Member
You can help contribute to a positive company culture, give back to your community, and still make the kids soccer game on the weekend. If offered the opportunity to participate, take it. If community engagement is not a part of your company’s culture, introduce it. While many companies large and small make annual contributions to local charities, there is greater value in organizing your own events. The team-building, publicity, and goodwill can have a long lasting, positive impact beyond simple recognition for a cut check. Make this case to your employer and offer to lead the effort. Much of the work will be done during regular business hours (wink wink) and you’ll be telling your friends about it over cold micro brews after the weekend softball game. Again, everyone wins.
Food or clothing drives, public park clean-up efforts, job shadowing for at-risk youth, or donating services to needy non-profits are great examples of how some businesses in my community choose to get involved. An advertising firm in our town chooses a local nonprofit each year for a brand and awareness campaign makeover. I think that is a cool idea.
Combining your community involvement and work activities creates life efficiencies that can alleviate your over-scheduled life. Because of all the time that we have to give, “me” time is essential for a healthy, happy life.