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Acts of Kindness – A New Company Holiday?

Make A Difference in Your CommunityI’m always looking for emerging trends with employers regarding the benefits they offer. Just recently, I came across a commentary piece in the March edition of Employee Benefits News about an employer, Borislow Insurance, a benefits brokerage firm based in Massachusetts, who created a holiday tradition called The Random Act of Kindness. My interest was immediately peeked.

As described by Mark Gaunya, principal at Borislow, their program works as follows… For each of the last five years, Borislow gives each employee a $100 bill and asks them to go out into their community and ‘pay it forward.’ This ritual takes place about two weeks before the actual company ‘holiday’ celebration.

The rules are quite simple. Each employee must:

  • Use the money to make a difference in someone’s life.
  • During the holiday celebration, share with other employees how they spent the money.

As mentioned by Mr. Gaunya, “The stories are incredibly touching, and there usually isn’t a dry eye in the house by the time all is said and done.” Stories include an employee secretly following a senior citizen around a grocery store and paying for the groceries at the checkout counter. Another employee used the money to help pay some of the funeral expenses for a family that just lost a child to a sudden death.

Isn’t this perk really about a sense of belonging to an organization that desires to make a difference in small (and unique) ways within its’ own community? This particular employer-provided benefit allows for individual creativity. Employees provide thoughtful acts of kindness helping those who least expect it. Civility in our communities can certainly go a long way, especially given the many societal challenges we face.

Whether through volunteerism or asking employees to donate money to various causes, organizations can make this ‘benefit’ become an avenue of employee engagement. For some organizations, it may seem awkward to ask employees to donate to certain causes…or perhaps even volunteer their time. If the program is not communicated appropriately to employees, it may be negatively perceived as ‘intrusive’ or ‘forceful.’

It seems to me that corporate giving and employee volunteerism can represent an enjoyable way for employees to meet outside the workplace and experience a real source of pride by giving back to their community. Employees can derive a tremendous sense of joy when giving back to others in many different ways – through giving of their time, talent and money.

Employee engagement is extremely powerful for any organization. Finding meaningful ways to engage employees that will ultimately benefit their community is definitely a win-win-win for the employee, the community…and the employer. There is a great deal of information on the impact that corporate giving has on revenue, etc. One such resource can be found at Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship.

So is this idea an emerging trend? I don’t know. But I do believe that Mr. Gaunya’s organization is on to something that creates a great deal of value to all who touch that $100 bill!

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