As more than 230 Carson Group stakeholders converge in Omaha this week for our annual two-day, companywide retreat, their presence reminds me of what it means to make an impact. It reminds me that, as advisers, we often forget the reach of our actions and underestimate the effect our businesses have on the lives around us — or better yet, the impact we could have if we were more intentional about connecting our company's culture to the community.
Think about building an impact-driven culture on three levels: locally, nationally and globally. How are you involved with friends, family and individual passion-based projects? Maybe it's donating time at your son or daughter's school, supporting your own charity or foundation or donating resources, time, and energy to a recent, local natural disaster.
Expanding your lens to a national or global level may involve serving on boards, adopting an investment philosophy that aligns with ESG initiatives or partnering with larger organizations to extend your reach.
[Register now for our ESG & Impact Forum at the U.N. on Dec. 5.]
Over the past few weeks, we've kick-started a focused effort to encourage stakeholders to volunteer for causes they believe in and want to feed. The initiative has been absolutely eye-opening. We've seen firsthand how allowing room for this time can bring more fulfillment to our stakeholders' lives while building stronger bonds as a team.
A recent UnitedHealth Group study backs this thinking up when it found 81% of employees felt more connected to their colleagues as a result of volunteering. This push to give back also lowers stress levels, improves your team's sense of purpose beyond work and makes us physically healthier individuals.
If the research teaches us anything, it's that building an impact-driven culture addresses some of the most challenging obstacles we often can't remedy through our own efforts as business owners. Increasing compensation or giving more time off only go so far in helping professionals feel good about their work.
So how can you establish an impact-driven culture and strengthen your bond as a team?
1. Give employees space to give back. This can be in the form of paid time off to volunteer each year, group-organized initiatives or gift-matching programs. Show that you support them with the gift of time and resources.
2. Lead by example. Recently, I've been quite vocal about my own mission and the causes I believe in — and this is simply to encourage our own stakeholders. Life has a way of delicately masking the things that are most important, so be the example. Show your team what it looks like to be a servant leader.
3. Make it easy. Organizations like the United Way can help your firm, however big or small, design a workplace giving program to make it easy for employees to give back with the convenience of payroll deduction. Often, the biggest roadblock to making an impact is taking the first step, so think of ways to put opportunities in front of your team so they can opt in.
4. Create a wellness program. Physical wellness is just one piece of the puzzle. We know that mental health, financial health and emotional health make just as much of a difference in work satisfaction and fulfillment.
The physiological effect of involving yourself in a cause close to your heart can reduce depression risk and lower mortality rates, so by including volunteering as part of a wellness program, you further build that holistic space for stakeholders to improve their health and happiness.
All this said, creating an impact culture is not about adding additional responsibilities or stress to your team. It's simply about creating more room for individual and team fulfillment.
Hold true to who you are and the attitudes you want to inspire. You'll be surprised by the individual talents and passions that surface, and the impact it has on your firm — an impact that not only drives your team forward but unleashes an untapped potential you could never have experienced otherwise.