5 Ways CSR Builds Teams

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CSR, Africa, Tanzania
A CSR activity in Tanzania by Creative Commons.

Incentive trips have a strong track record of motivating, retaining, rewarding key staff, raising morale and increasing loyalty. When companies add a community development component to an incentive trip, not only do employee’s trip feedback ratings go off the charts as a result of the meaningful interaction that comes from volunteering, but a company’s CSR profile gets a boost.

These CSR-friendly incentive trips retain all the old favorites of an incentive trip, such as gala dinners, incredible activities and luxury hotels (although the right provider can assist with finding ‘eco-luxe’ hotels that have strong environmental and social credentials) and are overlaid with a high impact project funded by the company, and completed by the employees. Examples are building libraries and houses, or renovating schools and orphanages. The key is that the CSR-focused company firstly consults with local communities (or a good voluntourism provider consults on their behalf) to identify areas of need, then funds the costs (including hiring local expert builders to do the bulk of the work), leaving the company’s staff to spend a couple of days applying the finishing touches, getting to know the locals, and handing the completed project over to the community.

Here are 5 ways a hands-on volunteer project helps build and strengthen an employee team, courtesy of Hands Up Holidays:
1) In most cases, the group divides into smaller groups based on maximizing their effectiveness to achieve the tasks in the limited timeframe. This requires identifying who is best suited for each role.
2) Each sub-group has to work out their own timing, ordering of activities and division of labor to achieve their assigned goals.
3) Especially with a building project, the team has to be cohesive, and rely on each other in order to get the structure built in time. Even with activities such as painting classrooms, there needs to be coordination to ensure that the limited supply of paint is properly allocated and all the rooms are painted on time.
4) There is a huge morale boost and sense of achievement from each of the teams when they complete their tasks.
5) There are many opportunities for the group to bond. This can take place in evening social activities and also in the interaction with the local children, where they can play football and ad hoc games together.

These trips are truly “win-win,” especially when the company demonstrates a long-term commitment to the project. For example, it might provide scholarships for students to go on to high school, or bikes to get there or uniforms to wear. Many companies start a Facebook page to keep the incentive winners updated on the children long after they return home. Attendees are left feeling more closely bonded with their teams and the lives they have touched.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.