5 Ways to Foster a Caring Culture
As a community bank focused on serving local businesses, we understand the importance of giving back to the communities we serve. Customers and employees want to know that the businesses they patronize and work for have values that align with their own. But we also know we can’t just say we’re committed to our communities, we have to show it.
Here are five ways we’ve found to help foster a caring culture at Republic Bank of Arizona:
1. Make Giving a Core Part of Your Culture
While community involvement and participation has always been a company core value, we recently formalized it by instituting the Culture Club made up of five “go-getter” team members led by a member of executive management. The Club has an official Manifesto with clearly outlined goals and objectives. While we encourage participation by the entire staff, the Club members act as the inspiration, the collaborators and the leaders for the activities, which will include community outreach, as well as internal activities.
2. Be Creative and Have Fun
Yes, that takes planning and effort, but it is well worth it. For our annual food drive, we create teams that compete for prizes, weekly events that require a food or cash donation to enter, and mystery prizes throughout the week to encourage ongoing food donations. And there’s nothing wrong with incorporating a little friendly competition to really spice things up. At the end of the drive, each of our teams build some type of structure with the food items collected, which is then judged. The winning team wins a fun prize. But most importantly, several pounds of food are donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank.
3. Recognize and Support Individual Volunteerism
Support those employees who participate for their own reasons by offering paid time off, if needed, to volunteer. Recognize their individual efforts by featuring their volunteerism in the company newsletter. Acknowledge their efforts at employee meetings and on social media so they see the impact of their involvement on others and feel the company’s support for their individual efforts.
4. Choose Causes that Resonate with Employees, Customers & Shareholders
On occasion, we are asked by customers and shareholders to support specific activities important to them, and whenever possible, we will. For example, we formed walking teams for two very worthwhile organizations, NEEDA and UMOM, at the request of a shareholder and a customer. The Bank paid the employees’ registration fees and provided t-shirts to those who participated. Choosing causes that resonate with your employees, customers and shareholders is really a win-win, by supporting a great cause as well as the individual requesting your participation.
5. Lead by Example
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, management must lead by example. Our president and CEO has been a member of the Phoenix Rotary for 23 years, and participates in a number of community activities as part of that organization. Ralph and our executive team “walk the talk” by organizing and participating in our community support activities. Board Chairman Alan Sparks encourages and supports the Bank’s community efforts and has identified that as one of his priorities and chairman.
While these steps have worked for Republic Bank of Arizona, building a caring culture takes commitment and energy, but perhaps most importantly, transparency. You cannot fake it. Businesses need to be genuine in their commitment to local communities. There are many, many ways you can help your local community. Find a cause that you and your employees can get passionate about, and go for it!