Are the employees at your company “owners” or “renters”? In the bigger concept of company culture, “owners” are those employees who are invested in the organization’s success. “Renters” show up but may or may not care about the company beyond their next paycheck.
To be truly successful, a company needs as many employee “owners” as possible in order to efficiently and effectively meet their goals. This sense of ownership can be created through a variety of ways, but most correlate to a sense of pride. Do they like how the company is viewed in the community? Are they proud to tell their friends and neighbors where they work?
Giving back to the community is a great way to engage your employees while also building a reputation as a good civic partner. All too often, giving back is little more than a half-hearted effort to meet regulatory requirements and fulfill
obligations, when it should be a way for lenders to demonstrate their core values and, in the process, make team members excited to come to work every day.
When a lender fails to capitalize on the opportunity to engage its team members through philanthropic efforts and instead focuses on simply checking off a box, the results can do more harm than good to its reputation. However, when efforts are made to make giving back a part of a company’s culture, it can be transformative.
Businesses that have been successful in creating a strong community program focus on getting involved in causes for which their team members have a legitimate passion. When employees feel connected to the work they are doing, they become more engaged, productive and invested. Engagement level is critical to the success of a business. In fact, according to Gallupthose in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability. To increase engagement when looking for a new charity to support, lenders should ask for feedback from their team members, as this will spur them to take ownership of a cause they care about.
A genuine responsibility to give back helps team members have more pride in their work, which makes them feel even more connected to the organization’s core values. Additionally, volunteering is a good opportunity for team building. While giving back, employees often develop and improve skills that they use when working with customers. Lenders should have an open-door policy and encourage employees to submit initiatives that are important to them and that they would like the organization to support. Once suggestions have been received, they can then be filtered through a single department tasked with determining which efforts best sync up with corporate philosophy.
Not only does giving back foster a culture of employee engagement, it also allows an organization to connect with younger generations in an authentic way. This is especially important as millennials begin to make up more of the buying market and work force. According to a study by Cone Communications, 85% of millennials are likely to seek out companies that practice corporate responsibility. This is a great opportunity to connect with what will soon be the largest generation in the workforce.
One common problem is that companies fail to adopt philanthropic causes that align with their core values. To ensure that a company’s mission is reflected in the charitable work it does, it should verify that its core values are crystal clear to employees. Then, it should focus on filtering the causes that employees care about through the lens of those values.
The success of a lender can be measured by more than just revenue and the number of loans it originates, buys or services. Lenders should also focus on engaging team members through giving back and reflecting their core values in the charitable work they do. It’s an easy way to have a meaningful impact on company culture and the communities you serve.
About The Author
Hobie Higgins is Chief Engagement Officer for Gateway First Bank. Established in 2019, after the merger of Gateway Mortgage Group with a 100-year-old bank, Gateway First Bank emerged as a strong diversified financial institution providing digital solutions with a local touch for consumers and commercial customers. Gateway is headquartered in Jenks, Oklahoma and funds over $7 billion of mortgages annually and maintains $1.4 billion in assets, six bank branches in Oklahoma, and 160 mortgage centers across America. With over 1,300 employees, Gateway is one of the largest banking and mortgage operations in the United States.