Running out of engaging team offsite ideas? Make teambuilding worthwhile for everyone with a charity day.
Team offsites don’t always yield the results they promise. Instead of building cohesion and camaraderie, they often bore and sometimes even embarrass employees with their kitschy team building activities and lack of engaging material. Senior leaders and human resources departments that are dedicated to the out-of-office activities struggle more and more every year to come up with team offsite ideas that will benefit their employees and improve the quality of work they produce.
There are some companies, however, that are doing things differently. With the growing call for businesses to practice corporate social responsibility (CSR), many for-profit organizations are looking to charity events as a means of building those connections between team members that they know are so important.
Corporate Social Responsibility
CSR is the idea that with all the resources companies have at their disposal, they have a duty to give something back to the communities in which they operate. As Americans become more leery of big business and more sensitive to their surrounding environments, companies have started to demonstrate that they’re not all the big bad corporate machines some people would make them out to be. And one of the most visible ways of doing this—and one of the more unique team offsite ideas—is to designate one day a year as a charity day or community service day.
What is a charity day?
A charity day is a day when a company closes the bulk of its operations and sends its staff out to volunteer with one or more local non-profit organizations. The types of charity organizations differ drastically; everything from soup kitchens to shelters to underprivileged schools are great causes. What’s most important is that it’s a cause people within a business care about and one about which employees will be excited.
As far as team offsite ideas go, a charity day was once considered a bold move, but more and more companies are catching on. Lotus People, an Australian recruitment firm, sponsored a charity day this year in which the employees turned in the laptops for shovels as they helped Guide Dogs of NSW prepare for a training facility expansion.
In the US, DigitasLBi holds a community service day each year in all of their US offices, so multiple cities benefit from their volunteerism. And well-known cable operator, Comcast, hosts a charity day that included a global turnout topping 100,000 people in 2016.
Preparation and PR
Organizing these charity days is no simple task. First, you have to decide on a charity. For a smaller organization, a vote might be appropriate, but for larger ones, it’s likely an executive decision to make.
Once you choose a charity, the next step is getting employees excited. This isn’t as difficult as it may seem; most employees are more enthusiastic about taking a day out of the office to volunteer with each other than they are to take a day out of the office for a party or other kind of outing.
Of course, they have to know about it to be excited. Post about it on the company intranet for internal communications. Use the company blog to get news of the good work out to the world. And of course, don’t forget to post about all of your good work on your social media platforms.
Charity days do something else for companies that other team offsite ideas sometimes don’t: they create cohesion not only between employees within a company, but between companies, their employees, and the neighborhoods they serve. Imagine a place like New York City where big businesses occupy space next door to neighborhoods struggling with education, housing, and food. When companies step up and get involved in those communities, they build bridges that foster open dialogue and a better sense of how we can and should be helping our neighbors.
Other ways to be charitable
To that end, team offsite ideas are only one way to practice corporate social responsibility. If that doesn’t fit into your schedule, or you’re still not convinced, you can offer employees a bank of paid volunteer days, which are PTO days separate from vacation or sick time. Employees can use the time to volunteer for a charity of their choosing. You might also offer to make a matching donation once a year per employee for a donation they make to a charity that means something to them.
Regardless how you choose to practice CSR, one thing is sure: In the changing climate of today’s business, it works to everyone’s advantage when companies set their sights on giving back. When they do, it builds cohesion between employees within an organization and between people within communities who seek to work together to create something incredible—a better world.