Monday marks the national holiday to celebrate the life, ideals, service, and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Originally incorporated more than 30 years ago, the holiday was renamed in 1994 as a call to all Americans to make the day one of volunteer service.
I’m fortunate that in my role directing the Businessolver Foundation, every day is a day of service – and that I get to call my fellow Solvers to join me. It’s my joy and honor to come to work each day and help channel my fellow Solvers’ drive to give back. The genuine care, empathy, and thoughtfulness our employees show toward their community and country continues to amaze and inspire me, and I know the ripple effects of that care are felt throughout communities across the nation.
But you don’t need to have a corporate foundation to make a difference in the communities where your employees live and work. As Dr. King said: “Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
In honoring Dr. King’s legacy and his words, here are 3 ways you can call employees to greatness through service:
- Connect with community (all of them). We’re all part of a half dozen or more communities – in our homes, where we work, where we live, where and with whom we spend our free time. All of those communities can be ones that can be mobilized to serve, in some way. Let employees know that service doesn’t have to be a big, bold, showy endeavor where they raise millions of dollars or donate tons of clothing or food. Some of the most effective service projects I’ve seen have come from one Solver simply saying to another, “Hey – I think we could help if we did this. Would you join me?”
- Use your strengths. These don’t have to be physical or financial! In Dr. King’s words, “you only need a heart full of grace.” And each our hearts are stirred in different ways; give employees the freedom and support to follow their heart toward service, and I promise you’ll see the results tenfold. Lots of animal lovers? Point them toward local rescue shelters. Channel your veterans’ patriotic spirit of service to organize care packages to deployed troops or veterans and wounded soldiers, or send a small gift and letter of gratitude for their service; Operation Gratitude and Give 2 The Troops are good resources. Lots of outdoorsy types in your workforce like our Solvers in Denver? Remind them that they only need a few trash bags, gloves, and some friends to clean up a local park or playground. I could go on and on; the possibilities are endless, and so is the difference small groups of employees can make.
- Emphasize that size doesn’t matter. As another philanthropic icon Mother Teresa said, “We can do no great things, only small things done with great love.” At Businessolver, that comes to life through our commitment to empathy – showing genuine understanding and care for one another and our clients by seeing the world from their perspective. We believe empathy is a big part of achieving our mission to deliver delight, and that we show empathy in small but significant ways throughout the day. Your own company culture and principles will guide you toward supporting and recognizing small acts of service in an authentic way – and help your employees answer the call to service at work and in life.
When it’s all said and done, all of us want to give back to our communities, but feel overwhelmed by day-to-day stressors and commitments. However, encouraging your employees to start small – sometimes using nothing more than the spirit within them and the people right beside them – is not only how to honor Dr. King’s legacy on Monday, but make every day a day of service for their colleagues, clients, and communities.