Thankfully, with the Great Recession now in the rear-view mirror, corporate giving is back on the rise. It feels good to give and there are so many needs. Businesses, also, realize that giving to causes is a great business strategy as customers respond to businesses that prove they are good corporate citizens.  This strategy is becoming so popular the current giving movement has been called a philanthropic revolution.  Couple this, with the recent commitment by some of our country’s very richest business leaders to give huge sums of their wealth away to needy causes, and you can see why.

It’s a revolution whose time has come.  It’s great to see and be involved in.  By the way, it’s, also, a great employee engagement strategy, if you want to look at it that way, as employees (in addition to being consumers) don’t stop caring about their community when they walk through the door at the office.  Formal or informal opportunities given by their employer to do good, give time and resources to good causes highly resonates with employees.  It improves overall morale and enhances their sense of pride in being a part of an organization that cares.

I love seeing all the interest in filling needs in our broader community… yet with mountains of data regarding what a disengaged workforce the U.S. has on the whole… I believe it’s worth an effort to spark some interest in a sort of revolution at home, that is to say, our “other home” (most of us spend more time at our workplace than our family home).

I say this from the same perspective I have when I hear of all the money our country gives to meeting real needs in other countries.  I’m proud we help feed hungry children in Africa and the like …but we have so many hungry children here in the U.S.  Perhaps, it just feels more glamorous and high profile, in some ways, to help out in foreign countries.  Additionally, we seem to look at our own hungry differently.  Is it a bit of “familiarity breed contempt” and “absence makes the heart grow fonder?”

I  would like to see another kind of revolution here in West Michigan.  One which we do for ourselves…because, frankly, we deserve no less.   I’d like to see business and workers lock arms and give up settling and stop accepting workforce disengagement as ‘the way it is’ and ‘the way it will always be’ (more or less.)  I bet I’m not alone. I believe few of us actually need to see any of the mounting disengagement data to prove to us that the ‘collective WE’ are being dragged down, mightily, by a pervasive feeling of detachment in our daily work lives.   The data highlights the problem.  The more awareness, the better, I say… but when will we reach the “the breaking point” where we do something?  I don’t know about you but I’m hoping the time is right for another kind of “giving revolution”, right now!  A giving revolution where the givers and the receivers are one and the same.

Let me ask you a serious question: Wouldn’t it be great if Grand Rapids, Michigan was on The 10 Cities With The Best Employee Engagement list within the next one, two, or three years?  Can you think of all the benefits?  Our region would be in a stronger position to attract the best talent?  Our businesses would be on the most proven path to greater financial returns.  Our people (business leaders and workers) would enjoy their work days more and, hence, the quality of life in West Michigan would, naturally, sky rocket in a multitude of ways.  There are so many ways to profit from such an endeavour I can’t even begin to count them.  Honestly, I can’t think of one downside, can you?

Frankly, American businesses and workers have certainly spent enough time pointing fingers and affixing the blame for the malaise in the workplace on someone else.  Perhaps, we might stop waiting for someone else to do something and be among those who go first?

West Michigan/Grand Rapids is just the community to do it.  Heck, we have made several lists in the last few years for the first time (Example: top ten vacation spots in the country 2014). We’ve even rebelled and successfully gotten ourselves removed from a unsavory list (Top Ten Dying Cities) we didn’t legitimately belong on.  Power to the People!  🙂

Granted, we’ve never proactively launched a campaign, based on a cultural revolution ahead of the actual accomplishment, before.  It would be a worthy aspiration, in my view.  There’s a first time for everything.   Remember, the journey towards walking on the moon began when we started reaching for the stars.

Share your thoughts.    Should Grand Rapids Top Another List of Remarkable Cities?  What do you think about going for the one I suggest: The 10 Cities With The Best Employee Engagement?