Culture of Giving

Giving without expecting returns (a selfless action) is one of the greatest virtues according to the Bhagavad Gita, a spiritual guide of the Hindus. It specifically states that one should work without expecting rewards. This way when a reward does come your way, you are overjoyed. But if no reward comes your way, you are not disappointed. But many people ask the question: How should I work without a reward? What should be my motivation? The Gita offers a solution for this too: If you are persistent in your actions, you will be rewarded. This the primary principle of ‘karma’ (a feedback cycle). It is best explained by a modification of Newton’s third law of motion: “Every action has an equal reaction”.All this philosophy is fine in theory. But how does it apply to businesses?

Many organizations work on financial returns. These financial objectives are often short term benefits. These can be heavily dependent on a number of uncontrollable factors. But let’s look at the bigger picture. What differentiates organizations? What are the greatest assets of an organization? In most cases it boils down to one thing: People. They make or break most organizations.

So let’s start off by implementing this ‘Culture of Giving’ to the people of the organization:

Reward hardworking and outstanding employees. Employees who are rewarded will feel recognized. This means two things: they will perform better and be more loyal. Other employees will look at these employees and be motivated to perform better in order to obtain recognition. This has been proved in a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study which shows that peer/social pressure is a bigger motivator than money. When more performance occurs, more recognition should happen (a key step to this process). This means that more employees are satisfied and attrition will reduce.

According to the same HBR study, satisfied employees will give back by putting in their best efforts to create the greatest product/service. This will attract customers who value the great product/service provided by the company. These are the people who are willing to pay a premium for the product/service and are loyal, but not price sensitive – exactly the customers businesses should be targeting.  Once they are satisfied with the product/service, they will return for more. This generates sustainable revenues for the company which can be used to reward the stockholders. The stockholders being happy, will lead to higher share prices of the company. This leads to the company being an  out performer, which causes the company to strive to do better and push further. This ‘Culture of Giving’ is a positive feedback loop which can tremendously change how a business operates.

All this can work in the other way too. After all, that is how karma works. So this is something which should not be ignored.

Unlike financial investments, the ‘Culture of Giving’ might not pay immediate dividends. But over time, it can become a valuable asset and a competitive advantage. The organization can transcend from being average. It can become a pioneer and leader in its area of expertise.

This can be extended to all parts of the organization, including CSR. Give back to the society and see how they support your organization!

CSR at work

Creating sustainable businesses

In today’s world, it is not enough if we think of a business as an individual unit, separated from the society. Business has always been an integral part of society. Although the primary motive is to make money, businesses have realized that it is not enough to focus only on this. It has realized that it has to show society that it cares, now more than ever. Although this started as a fad, businesses have realized that it is actually a sustainable business model and it is the way forward. Sustainable businesses are environmentally friendly and/or have an enduring commitment to local community. This lowers costs and builds long lasting relationships with the community.

Although CSR might not be the top priority of a business in a weak economic climate, it may actually improve a company’s bottom line performance. CSR improves a company’s image in the eyes of the public, increases consumer awareness, customer satisfaction and purchase behavior. This in turn improves a company’s profitability. Apart from this, it also improves employees’ view of the company. It makes them more committed to work for the company because they feel proud of being associated with a company that cares. Businesses can also encourage employees to take active leadership roles in such activities, which gives them hands on experience, which can then be used in their professional careers as well.

CSR comes in various forms. Most companies have various programs in which people dedicate some time helping others. It may be in the field of education, local community support or any other cause. As long as employees have a choice of selecting a program which interests them the most, it will be helpful.