The Art of Doing Good: A Smart Way to Improve Your Company Culture

We have a tagline at our landscaping company: Making Neighbours Jealous Since 1994.

Our landscaping market is relatively small – a population of under 200,000 people share this gorgeous slice of the Okanagan Valley. But we generate over $2,000,000 in revenue every year and create 20 direct jobs for our owners and employees not to mention many others like advisors, consultants, suppliers, etc who also play important roles in our success

The success we share, in my opinion, is modest at best but that doesn’t mean that we are not proud of what we have and continue to accomplish.

One of the reasons Creative Roots has stayed afloat during economic downturns is our reputation as a generous community partner. And it’s not window dressing.

If you’re trying to figure out how to turn or simply improve on your company culture, it might be time to turn to your community and the good nature of your employees.

People want to belong…and feel welcome.

One of the ways you can improve company morale is creating a program of giving back in your backyard. Here’s what we did…

We started in 2007. We called it Creative Roots GiveBack. It’s simple. It’s relatable. It’s doable.

Every week we host a company-wide financial meeting – part of our Open Book Management system – Each employee donates an hour of their wages for these meetings to the GiveBack program, providing depending on the size of the team, and approximate $8000 per season to the Give Back Pool. This enables the giving to happen!

As with almost every decision that is made throughout our organization the entire team is involved. We’ve donated cash and in-kind services to a wide range of community partners: our local cancer lodge, a women’s shelter, hospital foundations, charities that care for our community’s homeless. Sometimes it’s a cash donation. Other times our team does maintenance for someone in need through our Yard Angels program.

I can hear you saying, “Sure, I write a check to charities every year, that’s a no-brainer…I don’t need a staff meeting to figure out where the money should go.”

But guess what: when you spend time sitting around a table with your team and they’re expressing which charity they feel needs support, you’re learning about things that matter to them.

You’re learning about yet another aspect of what their priorities are, what worries them…what motivates them.

You find out they have a child with diabetes or a sister who’s a First Responder, a cousin who’s living in hospice and only gets to look out the window at his world.

And then you can engage in a meaningful conversation. Can you fix all the problems around the table? Of course not. But you can listen, then ask questions, and try to figure out ways to support your team for the non-work-stuff.

Your staff aren’t cogs in a wheel. They come to work with their own worries – and victories, of course. If you’re not asking, they’re not sharing…and you’re lacking a connection.

Are your employees proud to wear your company gear? Mine are…when they’re running an errand on their breaks they don’t feel like they have to hide their “job identity”. Our community knows we are a caring bunch of landscapers. Imagine having employees who aren’t only proud of the great work they do at their trade, but are also proud of the great work they do in their community.

The hidden cost of not giving back.

Think you don’t have time to ask the “touchy-feely” questions? Don’t want to get bogged down in the personal flotsam? Don’t want to waste billable hours and bottom-line gains on philanthropy? Think that that same money might be better spent on traditional marketing?

Ask yourself how much time you spend recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, training…only to have an employee leave your company for greener pastures. You have a great product and the expertise to impress your clients…but does your staff actually care about your bottom line when they’re not sure you care about them?

Are your employees’ friends jealous of their job?

There are ways to build a healthy, sustainable company culture…investing in a give back program is just one of the ways you can appeal to the other like minded people in the community. That is where your employees and customers come from right?

Want to learn more? Contact me.

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