Each year about this time the team members at Next Level Performance take time out of their busy days to give a little back to our community. Our annual support HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere and Excel), a charity started in 2009 by the New York Yankees based on the belief that corporations should commit to improving their communities.
In years’ past we’ve gathered in conference rooms and around cafeteria tables, working side-by-side to prepare and assemble first-night kits for new parents and Halloween treat bags for local kids in need, we’ve gathered food donations, created shadowboxes for the local children’s hospital, and much more.
And while the disruption of 2020 threw a few wrinkles into our usual team-based approach to HOPE Week, it was no match for our commitment to helping members of our community reach the Next Level. After all, we’re in the engagement business and mindful that the notion of building purpose in the workplace sits central to our company’s mission.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, Employees’ expectation that prospective employers will join them in taking action on societal issues (67 percent) is nearly as high as their expectations of personal empowerment (74 percent) and job opportunity (80 percent).
So while the comradery of the conference room was a perk that we knew was off the table, and many organizations are not accepting physical donations due to pandemic concerns, the spirit and commitment of our team to help those in need was not to be deterred. We simply got inventive and engaged our teams in a way that respected distance, connected virtually, and drove the kind of positive change that our team members thrive upon.
This year we chose to work alongside teachers to fund learning and betterment initiatives in lower-income schools.
Our approach was simple. We identified seven specific educational programs to support, presented the choices to our team members, and they directed their company-supplied funds to that specific project. The options included funding for pre-school and elementary school learning materials, masks and hand sanitizer, a webcam for virtual teaching, guided reading books, and additional resources to provide racial diversity within reading materials.
There is always importance in giving. Whether it is knowing someone is counting on us at work, home, or as a sympathetic friend, giving provides fulfillment and gratification for all involved. The notes and thank-yous from recipient teachers provided a much-needed morale boost for our team members missing their daily office interaction.
The concept of purpose and its relation to engagement has been proven time and again in research, as has the benefit of a more engaged workforce. Which means for those of us interested in creating a more productive, loyal and enthusiastic workforce (read: everyone spending time to peruse this post) we must find inventive ways to create stronger emotional workplace connections.
Giving back does just that for our team at Next Level. Being able to help children, teachers, and parents made HOPE Week truly special this year. The plan for schools this year may be fluid, but we know that we helped a little, supporting a teacher, providing materials to a student eager to learn, or just easing a parent’s mind. That reminds us all of our connection to each other.
“Dear Next Level,
I do not have the words to express my gratitude for your support for our project. We try to offer as many opportunities to our students as we can, and your support makes it possible for us to continue to do this. I can't wait to hear the "oohs and aahs" when my students see our new carpets!”
Mike McWilliams, the Vice President of Marketing and Strategy, has been in the incentive and events business for more than 25 years. He started his career as an ad copywriter and he’s an award-winning creative director, loyalty strategist and marketer. Mike leads Next Level’s strategy, marketing and communications efforts and is responsible for creating motivational programs that take your team members to the next level. He grew up near Detroit, Michigan and now lives outside Denver, Colorado.