Business and Community
Who is a Business’ Community?
Businesses have several communities. The business itself is a community made of people who share a common goal (employees hired to perform a function or task to provide a specific service). Who the business services creates another community (i.e. coffee drinkers, music lovers, etc). Where the business does business is another community. This can be a neighborhood, small town or city.
Community Fosters a Sense of Belonging
Employees, customers and citizens all have an inborn need to belong to and care for something larger than themselves. It is what drives people to join groups and clubs, to give their time and/or money to causes, and to work hard for a company. Employees that are engaged and believe in the company’s mission statement act as individuals in a community – championing the greater cause by participating in whatever function they are able.
Take for example a customer service representative at a cancer fundraising company. While the employee cannot donate enough money to make a difference in cancer research, he/she does feel valuable to the cause because of the work they are doing.
This premise can be applied to the simplest of businesses. Take Starbuck’s for insistence. Baristas feel part of the company given the company mission statement and guidelines. At the simplest, Starbucks serves coffee to customers and provides a place to share and gather. Employees feel pride at the “where our coffee comes from” understanding that Starbuck’s corporate responsibility applies to them by extension. So, in working for Starbuck’s each employee is contributing to fair trade and environmental sustainability.
Community Builds Creativity
Any community offers diversity, and diversity builds creativity. Think of the scene in the movie Apollo 13 where the engineers (community) had to come up with a solution for the astronauts to fix the oxygen filter. It took each one of the engineers to discover a solution to save the astronauts. In a neighborhood, we may see homeowners gather to create a safer environment by implementing neighborhood watches or organizing crime awareness rallies.
In business, this same creativity applies. Employees may be asked to find a way to do their jobs in less time or with less equipment. The employees come together as a community (with a single goal) to find a solution.
Community Strengthens the Overall Goals
There is strength in numbers. This is never truer than in a community. One homeowner fighting crime is not as powerful as an entire neighborhood committed to reducing crime.
Imagine how powerful a business can become when all its employees focus on the same goal. When all employees are equally engaged, managers interact on a level of partnership, acting as resources for staff rather than overseers.
How Businesses Can Create Community
How do businesses create community? It starts with the leadership team. Leaders have a great influence on the moral or “feel” of a business. They set the standards of conduct by demonstrating the business’ core values. These core values are not a set of feel-good words posted on the lobby wall, but rather a guiding principle that shapes the business, its employees and the service they provide.
If a business’ core values are Respect, Compassion and Fostering Learning, then everything a business does – from hiring and disciplinary decisions to customer growth and revenue – must reflect these values.
More and more, businesses use the core values to gain customer trust, but forget that their employees are also part of the core values. Customers and employees cannot be separated. They are intrinsically connected. When your employees are happy and feel valued, they naturally extend that happiness and sense of value to their customers. This is how a business gains loyalty of a customer and trust of its employees.