andWe are in unprecedented times as the world wrestles with the COVID-19 outbreak. The news is full of bad economic news and many businesses are in crisis. One has to wonder how companies can think about “giving back” when they are worried about managing these difficult times, and in some case, their very survival. I get that. However, we have to remember that social contribution in business is about more than just altruism. There are valuable opportunities for branding, market awareness, culture building, and retention of your best people. After all, some of the best employees are the ones that care…and care that you care.

So, what are some ways to contribute in a crisis, especially when your own resources are limited? How can you remain a positive force in the community? And how can you leverage that to support your businesses?

Capture Potential Waste

Many businesses are facing spoilage, looming sell-by dates, or even unused capacity. Ask yourself if there is someone who could benefit from that otherwise lost time or inventory. If you are restaurant or retailer with food stock at risk of spoiling, is there somewhere you can donate that food before it goes bad?

If you are a service firm, do you have idle capacity that can delivery value remotely during social distancing? Lawyers, can you give free 20-minute advisory calls? Accountants, can you review current stimulus options? Home decorators, can you do visual reviews with a women’s shelter to help beautify their space? You get the idea. Simply ask “who could use our service, but might not be able to afford it?”

But what if you don’t have product to donate and aren’t a service business? Well, do you have team members that are idle during this slow-down? Now is the time to give those skills away to those who need them. Staff members that are normally dedicated to your internal needs but are currently under utilized are great opportunities for contribution. Can their skills be offered externally while they have the time? Can they volunteer to advise or otherwise contribute remotely to a group that needs their unique skills? This is a great double-win, as staff increasingly look for skills-based volunteering to gain experience and put their valuable time to its best use.

Whatever you do, however you are able to contribute, remember to document the process and create social media content. Take pictures and videos of gathering up that food, driving it down, and even the people or organization that receive your donation. Or, if you’re volunteering remotely, write a blog sharing the advice you gave and how others can benefit.  Take audio or video clips for your podcast. The organizations or individuals you are supporting to may even be willing to contribute, pose for photos, and share your content. There are plenty of free tools like Canva out there to help dress up your content.

Whatever you do, just do something to leverage the contribution. A blog post, Instagram photo, YouTube video, employee email…whatever you can manage. People are hungry for “good news” right now and stories of businesses rising to the occasion stand out.

Support Your Team

This is a situation shared by all – businesses and individuals alike. Especially with so many people working remotely, it can be easy to miss a colleague in true crisis. Maybe you have staff quarantined without family to help pick-up basic needs, employee’s kids who need to be occupied while shut in, or just some people feeling really lonely. Can you support these needs, or better, can you facilitate a means for your team to support one another?

A platform like GozAround for Business can help share needs internally to your team, capture contributions that are made, and help in recognizing of your heroes. There are other options like Facebook groups or intranets as well, but the key is for people to have a sense of connection and for you to recognize those who are giving back. Out of that awareness and sense of support will come the HR benefits social contribution can offer.

There is an opportunity amid the chaos to ensure your team feels supported, valued, and recognized. This outbreak won’t last forever, so use these times to forge bonds between your team members and with your company. We remember how we were treated in times of need…don’t miss the chance to get it right.

Action Steps

Ideas are great, actions are better! So, how can you put this to work, starting right now? Here are five easy steps you can take today to put these ideas in motion.

  1. Ask do we have products that are likely to spoil or cannot be sold? If so, who can we support with those items?
  2. Ask do we have idle capacity for our services or skills? If so, who can we support with our expertise?
  3. Look for team members in need. Ask how can you find them, but above all, reach out. Circulate an email, intranet post, group message…make it OK to ask for help.
  4. Reach out to your team and ask for ideas on how your business can be a source of support in these times. Engage them in this process. You might be surprised what comes out, and engagement will be much higher.
  5. Find tools to help identify needs and capture contributions like GozAround for Business.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, or any time of extreme crisis, social contribution can easily fall off the priority list. We have a human desire to support one-another, but when we fear what the future holds, it can be hard to make time to give back. On the contrary, I urge you to look for opportunities to support your community and your team, now more than ever. I’m certain you will never look back and say “I wish we helped a little less”… and better yet it might just help propel you forward when the world, finally, returns to normal.

We would love to hear and share your stories of giving back, even when times are tough!