Real Leaders

7 Ways Volunteerism Gives Your Employees Purpose — and Your Organization Results

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Why do people take to the streets for what they believe in, but they find it tough to get out of bed and onto the same road that leads them to work?

Out in the community, where people are already giving their time and energy freely, there are clues about what we need to do to foster this same enthusiasm and emotional commitment in our workforces. For example, any recent peaceful national protests, such as the 2017 Women’s March or Brexit, show people’s strong desire to have a voice and rise for a cause. At protests, participants have one thing in common: passion.

Where engagement goes, excitement flows. Consider the ways that volunteerism drives passion:

There’s a story that gets people talking about a cause worth rising for. Usually, there will be a point of view that gets people interested and talking to each other. People learn about the cause when it stirs their spirit.

There’s a feeling you need to do something. The story inspires people to consider how they can help; it’s a call to action. There’s a sense of urgency that something must happen.

There’s a champion who inspires you to get involved. Champions share information that gives others a deeper understanding of the cause. They help people connect with the right sources to take action. They help clear the way to make things happen.

Those moved to act mobilize one another. Volunteers spur one another on by adding to the story. They develop an affiliation, collaborate, and share a “together we’ll get there faster” attitude.

Progress inspires people to take action and go further. A well-worn path to success sparks more action. You can see that what you’re doing is being heard or having an impact.

You build your abilities as you experience new things. You learn from others and from everyone’s combined experience. As you develop new skills and add new experiences to your story, you build up your knowledge.

There’s a sense that your efforts have helped someone. Pretty soon, what you’re doing feels like a movement, which instills a sense of accomplishment. Friends, family, and your network recognize this, too. People think and say, “Wow, what a difference you’ve made!”

These seven facts underscore why volunteer-based charities and organizations have members with higher motivation. It’s not about the money; people believe in the work and want to make a difference. These three components—motivation, belief, and making a difference—are the key to engaging people’s hearts, and minds in a way that paid work has typically struggled to match.

When the same people who took to the streets clock into their salaried jobs the next day, the challenge for employers is to engender this same passion and purpose during work hours.

Turn vision into verbs

As the world spins ever more precariously forward and as our work world changes ever more rapidly, it’s worth revisiting your organization’s vision, purpose, and plans. Are you translating your vision into the verbs needed for today’s world? Are you articulating the company macro vision into your team’s micro vision? Does your company’s purpose need to change? Is it easily understood? Do you have a plan to stay true to your vision? Do people know how what they do each day contributes to these plans?

We must lead by example. We must regenerate our enthusiasm and a sense of purpose. Remember, as a leader, you’re the one who moves people to do remarkable things. You’re the “passion prophet,” not the passion police. You’re the person who must find ways to create enthusiasm in others, so they want to do remarkable things. Be the leader your people want you to be and watch your business results grow.

Author

  • Pamela Hackett is the Global CEO of the international consultancy Proudfoot. Throughout her 35 years in management consulting, she has advised, led, and guided some of the world’s most prominent companies and brands through major change. Her new book, Manage to Engage: How Great Managers Create Remarkable Results, is a compendium of ideas and resources that will help any business focus on what matters—their people—to be more productive and profitable.

Author

  • Pamela Hackett is the Global CEO of the international consultancy Proudfoot. Throughout her 35 years in management consulting, she has advised, led, and guided some of the world’s most prominent companies and brands through major change. Her new book, Manage to Engage: How Great Managers Create Remarkable Results, is a compendium of ideas and resources that will help any business focus on what matters—their people—to be more productive and profitable.

About The Author

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