A couple of months ago, the marketing admin at our company, Deanna, sent out a calendar invite for “Wreaths Across America” to lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. For those of you who don’t know about the organization, all across America on the same Saturday in December, wreaths are laid on graves of veteran’s cemeteries. Personally, I was excited!! I used to do a ton of philanthropy work in high school and college, but had gotten away from it in recent years in the whirlwind of life. I was looking to get back into more volunteering, and figured this was a great way to kick it off!
For those of us who went yesterday, we just had an amazing time! We participated along with an estimated 70,000 other volunteers at Arlington. We laid several wreaths each. With each wreath that was laid, I saw each of my co-workers looking at the grave, reading the headstone and taking time to try and understand who the person was, when they lived and where they fought for our country. No question, I think each of us received more than we gave yesterday. After the wreaths were out, we all went to lunch and naturally a lot of our conversation revolved around our morning.
So now a day later, I continue to reflect on this experience, and the impact that “Giving Back” can have on a small business:
Giving Back. Some do it, some don’t. We should do it, we have great intentions of doing it, but sometimes it gets put on the back burner. Or perhaps you volunteer on your own, or with your family, but how often do you translate these good deeds to the professional environment?
So if you get out there, give back to your community, here are some of the things that will happen to your business, maybe without you even realizing…
Establishes and Strengthens Relationships in Your Community: When you and a group of your funeral home employees/co-workers get out in the community as a group to volunteer, it sends a remarkably positive message to those not only on the receiving end of your work, but also the other volunteers who you meet during your volunteer experience, people who see your volunteer efforts either in person or on social media, and all the people your employees talk with about their experience.
According to a May 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, “82 percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop.”
Engages Your Employees and Encourages Personal Development: The more you can positively engage your employees, the more they will be invested in you, the funeral home’s business wellbeing, and most importantly the satisfaction of your families.
Think Zappos. “Zappos was built on the simple premise that to have happy customers, we need happy employees. To have happy employees, we need a great company culture. The success of Zappos demonstrates the linkage between company culture and employee engagement to company success” – Harvard Business Review, “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance”.
Helps Craft the “Culture” at Your Funeral Home: Crafting a company culture at your funeral home is not a topic that is talked a lot about in the industry, but is extremely important! Funeral directors, personnel, etc. are often times expected to work long hours, often missing out on quality time spent with family and friends. If you don’t have a culture that employees believe in, your business might have issues in recruiting, morale, retention and more. “Giving Back” is a way to infuse the culture at your funeral home with a philanthropic positivity.
So needless to say… give back. It could come in the form of laying wreaths on the graves of veteran’s during the holiday season, or it could come in the form of rounding up your employees during a slow day in the summer when you don’t have any funerals, to go shopping for items needed by the local homeless shelter. Regardless of what, where or when you do it, I promise you that the return will be greater than the investment.