Today’s organizations have great influence in making improvements in the quality of life and the sustainability of the planet, not just by products, but by how they conduct business, control resources, live their morality and value their employees as people.
For many years, the corporate mission was profit; pressure from the market, stockholders or owners kept the focus exclusively on the bottom line. However, in today’s highly connected world, no organization survives with an isolationist perspective. Today, every organization is visibly connected to its world through its employees, policies, attitudes and approach. Every organization is subjected to public review and scrutiny not only in national media but in blogs, chat rooms and correspondence in social networks Unique Press.
Much of this change has to do with a new type of employee. As manufacturing moved off shore, we saw a shift to an intellectual or service economy and a thinking employee. This economy has the employee as the visible face of organization to the customer; employees are no longer hidden behind machine, making products. Our products are our service and this service is great or poor depending on the performance (engagement, attitude and passions) of the employee. These employees, their thinking, attitude and focus on performance are affected by the constant stream of news and information they see and hear in our information blur age.
Today’s news thrives on sensationalizing event – it sells. News of Darfur, HIV, Iraq, terrorism, famines and other social catastrophes emotionally affect our employees. They bring these issues and their feelings about these issues to the workplace and demand that their organizations respond; this has forced a renewed social conscience on all organizations.
What is your social response? How do you use your influence to make a world of difference?
Look at your organization. What are the particular needs of your employees? How well do you know them and are there things that the organization could provide to help the quality of life of your employees? Assess your benefit plan for the particular needs of your employees. Work with benefit providers to offer greater personalized or customized benefits. In times of personal catastrophe (storms, floods, recession) organize a response to insure all of your employees are secure, safe and well. Be available to discuss national challenges and events. Share information to keep people safe. Charging employees to conduct an organizational review, assessment and response plan fires them up to make a difference.
Look at your community. Assess your business strengths then review the needs of your community. Organizations are not responsible for curing all of the ills in the community but as you identify those that are in line with your business, you can create a powerful impact. For instance, if you distribute water as a business, give 5 cases to each employee to deliver to the elderly or to the homeless in a heat spell. If you run a sporting goods retail store, donate last year’s t-shirt stock to families in need or to a youth sports league. Assessing community needs and matching them to business purposes creates many opportunities to make a difference in areas that are already well developed. Additionally, a review from a new angle frequently can create sound financial and societal response. Charging employees to conduct a community review, assessment and response plan fires them up to make a difference.
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Look at the environment. Does your business process have a positive effect on the environment? Are all aspects of running your business as efficient as they can be? Each of us alone cannot control global warming or other environmental issues, but we can create great collective awareness to make a difference. Start with a full environmental review of your facility, store or operations. Wherever possible, are you using the most efficient and planet friendly lighting, paper, water, heating and cooling? Many times minor changes to existing fixtures, layout or hours can significantly reduce energy consumption. Not only does it show environmental responsibility, it reduces expenses in today’s recessionary times. Charging employees to conduct an environment review, assessment and response plan fires them up to make a difference.
Look at humanity. After reading today’s world news, one would think that people don’t matter. Random killings, pogroms, terrorist strikes and illnesses all make the news on a daily basis. To that add recurring discrimination against women, minorities and gays in the workplace and we see that our world does not take great care of all people. Organizations have the ability to make a national and international presence with their responses to human needs in the world’s most desperate areas. They also have the ability of working to end discrimination locally by learning how to hire employees based on their talents and strengths – not based on gender, religion, ethnicity or other bias. Organizations that publicly commit to an employee-focused workplace, focus on the value of each person. Organizations have the influence to focus the world back on humanity – first at home, then abroad. Valuing each person and their contributions is the start. Charging employees to conduct a “humanity” review, assessment and response plan fires them up to make a difference.
By publicly reviewing each of these areas, not only do you inspire change, but you also activate your employees. Employees are proud to work for organizations that take social responsibility – they spread the word and become the organization’s best recruiting tool. Employees are fired up when they are asked to step up and take responsibility for things that make a difference with others and with the planet. The more you allow employees into this process, the greater degree of innovation and ownership they provide. They also find business opportunities as they create environmental and societal responses.
Organizations today have tremendous influence because they are staffed by actively thinking and feeling employees. This refocus on the “humanity” of the workplace also acts as the catalyst for social change. Employees hear and react to their worlds and now expect their organizations to respond as well. By giving employees a voice in the response, not only do they improve the world around us, but they also become more loyal, connected and fired up about what they do. Social conscience is great for business…it makes a world of difference and everyone wins.