Entrepreneurs and small businesses are important foundations in communities around the globe. Turning their passion into a business, creating jobs, collaborating with other local businesses, building a community of satisfied and recurring customers and making money are many of the reasons entrepreneurs start their business. Many want to do more. They want to leave a legacy, make a difference locally or create change around the world, too. Business as a force for good means there are elements of balancing profit as well as purpose. Think of using your business to help solve social or environmental problems or support such organizations.
Being a business for good can also help you attract the right fit employees, contractors, student interns and volunteers. We live in a time where employees are looking for meaningful ways to make a difference, both at work and in their community. At the same time, employers and entrepreneurs are also seeking new ways to engage and retain their contractors and employees. A recent Gallup poll report stated that more than 70% of employees feel disengaged at work. Furthermore, the cost of employee recruitment and retention is high. Some studies (such as SHRM) also predict that every time a business owner has to replace a salaried employee, it could cost the company approximately 6 to 9 months of salary, on average.
Other studies predict that this cost is even higher—that losing a salaried employee can cost as much as twice that employee’s annual salary, especially for seasoned or executive-level employees. Deeper costs can include the following:
- Challenges with overall employee retention
- Decline in morale, team spirit and collaboration
- Less effective communication or a rise in conflicts
- Reduced efficiency and productivity—new employees may take up to two years to reach the productivity and proficiency of an existing employee
- Domino effect of resignations—often high turnover creates even more turnover
- Reduced engagement
- Reputation challenges
- Disruption in the organization’s workplace culture
- Training, mentoring and teambuilding expenses
One way to tackle these issues is to adopt a Business for Good approach. Reports indicate that customers and clients are much more likely to do business with a company known for making an impact or doing good in the community or the world.
There are many ways that entrepreneurs and businesses can give back, make a difference or give forward (paying it forward) without having to spend a lot of time or money. Here are some ideas I see entrepreneurs doing:
- Look at your business practices regarding ecology. Do you recycle, toner recycle, reduce, reuse, properly recycle devices, choose eco-friendly products, support green vendors?
- Consider Round-up campaigns, such as a “Top Up at The Till” to donate money to local charities.
- Attend community events, such as the walk-a-thons (great team building activity), fundraisers and events put on by local community organizations. Help them spread their message through your social media.
- Save refundable bottles and cans for local charities. Better yet, save the charity some legwork by returning recyclables yourself and giving the charity or school the money.
- Offer employees paid time each month to support and volunteer for charities of their choice.
- Provide opportunities for your staff to work together on a project that supports a local charity. Some companies find ways to share their employees’ skills through volunteering with non-profit organizations.
- Write about local charities you support in your newsletter or outbound marketing.
- Ask your employees for their ideas on how the company can increase their social responsibility, be more involved in the community, support non-profit and charitable organizations or mission driven projects, and engage employees in making a difference in the communities where they live and work.
Take stock of what you are already doing to be a business for good. Do your customers and clients (and staff/volunteers) know what you do? Seek opportunities to expand your business for good activities. And remember—every action you take may just inspire other actions of good!