Simple actions that go a long way
Professional inspiration can come from anywhere. One place is from other businesses and brands that have made a professional and social statement by a few simple actions. Everything a business does can come under scrutiny instantly, and perhaps that’s why some businesses try harder than others to make a positive impact on their surrounding communities. Here are three examples of that, three brands that go above and beyond simply increasing profit and running day-to-day professional affairs.
Brand one: Burt’s Bees
While it may be easy to manufacture and sell eco-friendly products, it’s a different thing entirely to actually live and conduct business in compliance with those professional beliefs. Burt’s Bees does just that. Burt’s Bees isn’t just about making a profit—which, of course, is a goal of any business. It’s also about staying true to its brand and professional culture. And that goes for every employee that is a part of Burt’s Bees, from the top management tier down to hourly customer service representatives.
One part of being an employee of Burt’s Bees is spending up to thirty hours each year giving back and helping the world become more eco-friendly. Previously, Burt’s Bees shut down its headquarters in North Carolina and all able-bodied employees volunteered their entire work day with two charities to build an eco-friendly playground for the community. Another year, employees donated over 400 pairs of old jeans to Habitat for Humanity, allowing those jeans to be used as insulation in new homes rather than just being thrown away.
Brand two: REI
REI – It takes a special type of person to be in sales. Many times, those in sales have to lie, stretch the truth, and fake enthusiasm to make a sale. For many salespersons, making the sale is just about getting paid, no matter the cost. But REI, a company that sells equipment and apparel for adventures in the outdoors, has taken a different approach. Instead of employing those who are great sales people—no matter the product or service—REI employs those who are as enthusiastic about the outdoors as are their customers. There is no need for sales gimmicks or persuading. With ample enthusiasm and personal experience, those canoes, backpacks, and tents pretty much sell themselves, not to mention the amazing customer service that comes out when employees loves what they do and are connected with others with the same passions and interests.
We all know that just because an employee loves the products he sells doesn’t mean he’ll love working for any particular company. Again, REI has a unique approach—give employees every reason to love the company. For starters, REI employees receive merchandise discounts anywhere from 50% to 75%. That’s huge! That would be enough to make any employee happy, but there are even more incentives. REI offers a few grants per year—up to $3,000!—for employees to experience outdoors adventures. Also, once an employee has been there for fifteen years, they get a four-week vacation every five years—on top of normal vacation and holiday time off. I guarantee that REI has no problem retaining their employees and maintaining a positive work environment.
Brand three: Allstate
No matter if you like the insurance services Allstate offers, the good of their community outreach can’t be debated. While the recent professional fad of corporate social responsibility has influenced many companies, Allstate takes it to heart. Allstate’s charitable efforts and donations include the Helping Hands Committees, Allstate Foundation, efforts against domestic violence and dangerous teen driving, and promotes and supports financial literacy, inclusion and tolerance among social groups, and community support. In 2010, Allstate gave over $30 million in charitable contributions.
According to Allstate’s website, “We care because better communities mean better markets for our products. Because our employees and our neighbors agree that social involvement is important. Because helping people, especially when they need it most, has been our business from the beginning.” While Allstate has given back to local communities because it is their social responsibility to do so, it also increases outreach, which can increase end profit. Even so, Allstate’s charitable efforts have made a difference in many lives and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Improving your own brand
It doesn’t matter in which industry you work; you can use the above brands, and many more like them, as professional examples as to how you should run your business. While it’s important to give back, help out, and truly appreciate your employees, the above efforts can improve your business, increase your profits, and better your social standing. When you, as a business pro, go above and beyond, you’ll see the positive rewards—a happier workplace, a thriving community, and a brand that is consistent, reliable, and strong.