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Engaging Employees by Empowering Their Impact

Written by Jodie Johnson, Director of Marketing & Communications

Jodie JohnsonI joined First Business 14 years ago. I came from another industry and wasn’t sure if I wanted to take on the challenge of marketing a bank, but the First Business model was unique and the people who interviewed me were intriguing. They were smart, hardworking, thorough, and focused on results. This helped me make the decision to take the job. As I started working with my new coworkers, I was pleased to see everyone at the company shared these attributes and it was invigorating to work amongst them. I can say one thing really surprised me though — everyone found ways to give back to the community.

My boss was involved with United Way, my co-workers volunteered time with community causes, and our company celebrated nonprofit clients. I decided I wanted to do something too, so I asked my boss if I could flex my lunch hour to donate time to Big Brothers Big Sisters. He was 100% supportive. This allowed me to spend a couple of hours every Wednesday at a local elementary school mentoring an eight-year-old girl named Corrine. Sometimes I’d help her with math or reading, or we’d just talk about what was important to her. Corrine had a tough family life and it was eye opening to hear about the issues she faced and see the person she wanted to be.

Big Brothers Big Sisters was a positive experience as it provided the opportunity to see the world through another perspective and start my role in giving back to the community. Over the years I was introduced to other nonprofits and causes through our annual United Way Giving Campaign. Representatives from different nonprofits spoke with our employees about community issues and their work to help those in need. Each year I’d walk away with a greater awareness of the voids in our community and with greater respect for the nonprofits in our community.

It wasn’t long before I was invited to participate on advisory boards by fellow-coworkers, and eventually worked my way up to a few board positions, as well. I enjoyed these experiences — meeting new people and finding ways I could lend them my expertise or resources. Sometimes these experiences caused a bit of guilt because not only did I relish the opportunity to give back, I also took away experiences and skills that benefited me in my life and back at the workplace.

Volunteering provided a mutually beneficial exchange of information and learning.

Now, 14 years later, I know it’s a proven fact that companies with a commitment to corporate volunteering are more likely to retain their engaged employees than those that don’t. I love that my company supports employees giving back to the community through volunteering our time and skills, and even goes a step further putting on four events each year that support nonprofits. My favorite event is Enterprising NONPROFITS, an annual one-day conference providing training and networking opportunities to those who reside at the intersection of profitable and nonprofit organizations: executive directors, board members, and volunteer coordinators. Witnessing the energy, dedication, and collaboration between motivated community members who are working for change is invigorating. Encouraging those connections is an important part of supporting our nonprofits, and profitable companies benefit, too, with happier employees involved in their communities.

In reflecting back about what I like about my job, I still enjoy working alongside smart, driven coworkers. I love being part of a creative, collaborative, and fun marketing team. And I’m proud to work for a company that contributes to the community, and supports its employees in their personal endeavors to give back.

Are you a nonprofit supporter too? Check out the referenced Enterprising NONPROFITS event at www.enterprisingnonprofits.org.

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