How HR Leaders Can Give Back in 2015
Each year on January 1st, my family gathers around our kitchen table in our warm, cozy clothes for a holiday tradition we started 10 years ago: the big reveal of our Family Memory Box. All year long, we record funny stories, proud moments, activities completed, milestones, etc. and place them in the box. It's an opportunity to slow down and think about all we've accomplished individually and as a family and to set new goals for next year.
Taking StockAs we take stock of our blessings, we also take a look at how we are doing with giving back. Giving is deeply personal and usually a direct result of life experience. I've noticed over time that it's become increasingly challenging, not only to support causes most meaningful to us, but also to respond to myriad incoming requests from friends (and friends of friends) who are raising money for their beloved causes.
Of course I want to support friends walking 60 miles for Breast Cancer; of course I want to support MS Bike Riders; yes, I want to donate to the Humane Society Walk for Animals; and, yes, I want to support Gofundme and Kickstarter projects.
If you have an inbox or any social media account, you're likely receiving many requests through the year asking for support for a variety of causes. Sometimes it feels overwhelming and difficult to determine how to support and give within your budget and not to feel guilty after your giving well has run dry.
The Challenge for HR LeadersI'd venture to guess that many human resources leaders feel a similar struggle each year. They're considering how to give back to their employees with meaningful benefits. They're also inundated with many requests in this case, for specific employee benefits and perks and they have to prioritize and stay within budget constraints.
Employees ask their organizations for benefits to help them manage their work/life energy. The problem is that benefits are also deeply personal. What's important to a family with a newborn is completely different from what's important to someone who has college-bound children and aging parents. What about a single working mom with a special needs child? The list of unique life stages and situations is abundant.
So, how can organizations support and give within their budgets without feeling guilty when their giving well has run dry?
Whether thinking about giving personally or professionally, a few things to consider:
Be Honest with YourselfWhat's most important this year? Why is it important? How will this support our vision/mission or values?
Be RealisticWhat's our budget and what do we have capacity for next year? Are we biting off more than we can chew? Are we making promises we can't keep?
Be CreativeSupporting and giving back to others doesn't always have to be monetary in nature. Donating time, sharing knowledge, or offering recognition and thoughtful gestures can mean the world to others.
Be at PeaceYou will never be able to please everyone. Check in with your intentions and trust your instincts.
Looking Backward, Moving AheadWhile these strategies may be a good starting point, at the end of the day, giving back is more of an art than a science. While there's no right or wrong formula, for those looking to give meaningfully, I would venture to say it requires some extra attention and reflection.
As my family closes up our 2014 memory box and looks ahead, we're continuing some things and changing up others. We feel good about our contributions and yet we'll still look for new opportunities that may not have presented themselves yet.
My wish for HR Leaders and the organizations they support is that they make time to open their own memory boxes (which may include employee survey responses, retention, productivity, etc.). Then they can take stock of all the ways they gave to their employees last year, and keep open minds to new possibilities in the year ahead.