National Restaurant Association - Community giving boosts employee morale

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Community giving boosts employee morale

Once you begin working with a charitable organization, you can leverage your good deeds to boost employee morale and retention.

The key to leveraging community involvement as an employee recruiting-and-retention tool is to get staff "buy-in" on projects. Employees feel good knowing they are not just making a living, but are also making a difference in the lives of those in need. This can be particularly true for certain demographics. In Cone Inc.’s Cause Evolution & Environmental Survey, 87% of Millenials surveyed take cause marketing and a company’s commitment to the community into consideration when deciding where to work.

“What started with a few team members painting over graffiti in a playground has evolved into a company wide program that recognizes our team members as they volunteer for community projects and charities across America.” – Rob DeLiema, President, BJ’s Restaurants Foundation

How can you make this a win-win for your business?

  • Listen to your staff. Your employees are your greatest asset when it comes to charitable giving, so support causes that they care about. In fact, not only do restaurants benefit from the community goodwill for helping their neighbors, but there is a real correlation to community involvement and employee morale. In Cone Inc.’s Cause Evolution & Environmental Survey, 89% of employees surveyed felt a strong sense of loyalty to their employers when they are familiar with their companies’ cause programs.
  • Empower staff to select the charitable programs and volunteer efforts. Several companies have created task forces or committees made up of staff members at all levels to help decide what charities to support and to organize volunteer days.
  • Observe your staff for in-house opportunities. For example, you might discover that some employees could benefit from additional English language training or financial literacy skills. You could contact an organization to educate your staff and improve their lives.
  • Organize community-service projects for staff. By working together outside the restaurant with your staff, you can build more camaraderie. Some companies also offer paid time-off for staff to volunteer. BJ’s Restaurants, headquartered in Huntington Beach, Calif., gives its employees ample opportunity to volunteer through BJ’s TASC Force (Team Action to Support Communities). Employees have participated in a variety of events, including painting houses for needy seniors, donating their tips to purchase holiday gifts for foster and adopted children, assisting in community clean-up campaigns and supported local food banks, among many other activities. TASC Force volunteers are rewarded with service pins and celebration t-shirts.
  • Encourage your chefs to teach cooking and nutrition courses to individuals at risk of hunger and malnutrition. There are several organizations – such as Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters, the American Culinary Foundation Education Foundation Chef & Child Foundation, Feeding America’s Kids Cafe – that offer such classes, and it is a great way for chefs to share their love of cooking with those in need.
  • Hire local high school students. These students could work at your establishment and on your charitable project at the same time. Learn more about the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart program and how you can get involved.

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