Most of us spend at least one-third of our day at work. So, it only seems logical that we want that time to be pleasant. Most employees want to do satisfying work alongside co-workers who are friendly. As Forbes notes, having a friendly work environment can help build positive work relationships that lead to better collaboration, productivity and retention.
The Benefit of Company Events
One of the ways that organizations can start building a friendly work environment is through events. These can range in scope and size from small teams that are selected to work on a safety committee to large scale company events like a community project. Employees can work together outside of their normal responsibilities. These types of activities can have the following major benefits:
- The employee gets to use their knowledge and skills in a new way. While these events are sponsored by the organization, they're different from work. Employees can learn new things they can bring back to the workplace.
- The team has an opportunity to develop. Employees might be working with a familiar group but the activity strengthens the relationships. Or, employees may find themselves developing a new network of colleagues they can tap into when they're back in the office.
- The organization can give back to the community that supports them. Activities give employees an opportunity to build relationships with customers and suppliers. These strategic partnerships can benefit the organization's bottom line.
The challenge with organization initiatives is that everyone is busy. Employees have a full plate of work, so as much as they would like to volunteer, they simply feel they can't. In addition, HR departments are focused on sourcing and developing the best talent and can't always take the lead or organize events or activities. Finding time for employee involvement is key.
Creating Time for Employees to Get Involved
We already know that allowing employees to get involved in company initiatives has benefits. It's about these three critical resources.
Some organizations might say they can't let employees get away from their regularly scheduled work. The truth is, allowing employees to be involved in a volunteer activity for one hour per week wouldn't be a big deal. In fact, a growing number of organizations are giving employees paid "volunteer" days, as Fortune notes. They're using this as a company benefit in the hopes of attracting and retaining talent.
When employees learn new skills, it benefits both the person and the employer. It's possible that, by allowing employees to get involved in a company initiative, they'll learn a new skill (or improve an existing skill). If the organization already doesn't have this type of on-the-job learning available, giving employees a place to learn while serving the community or working on a special project could be a good use of organizational resources.
Yes, this all comes down to the bottom line. Giving employees a few hours each month to get involved is better than losing an employee. Allowing employees to participate in a organizational initiative can be cheaper than turnover and recruiting replacements. It could be argued that getting employees involved not only reduces or eliminates an expense, but it can help grow profits. Employees who are involved in initiatives are likely engaged, productive and positive.
So, how can HR make this happen?
Getting Employees Involved in Company Activities
First, HR needs to work with senior management to make company initiatives and activities something that will be supported and given adequate resources. Encouraging employee involvement should be part of the organizational brand.
HR can assume the role of facilitator in getting employees involved by making sure proper communication takes place. Candidates should learn about the organization's view on community involvement during the hiring process. New hires should hear about it during orientation and onboarding. Employees might come to HR with questions and HR can help them get answers.
But there's one other piece to HR's role as a facilitator. As employees become more engaged and involved in company activities, they will want some say in what those activities are. For example, an employee committee to plan the holiday party might want to have greater decision-making authority on the location of the party. Ultimately, if organizations want employees to get involved, they need to be prepared to empower them as well.
Empower Employees for Greater Involvement
Organizations could see benefits from giving employees the ability to get involved in company and community activities. For example, employees learning and growing professionally, working better with their peers and customers or the organization receiving positive feedback from their stakeholders.
But if organizations want employees to truly get involved, they should empower employees to make their own decisions. Getting involved in organizational activities cannot be a directive. It should include two-way communication.
Employees were hired for their knowledge and skills. They are trusted to do the right thing for the organization every day. Inspire employees to get involved by empowering them.
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