October 26, 2017

The Power of Giving Back

For those of us who choose the startup/hypergrowth path, we often find ourselves asking for a lot of help. We ask friends and family to invest financially and/or emotionally in helping us to grow, or to reach deep into their networks asking to be introduced to people who can aid us in whatever it is we might need help with. If we are successful, we are rewarded for creating what people want. And yet, with all that well-intentioned taking, how many of us take the time to pause and give back?

Sure, as companies progress, perhaps they add a matching gift element to donations their employees make or choose to sponsor a charity or two. All wonderful, but does it go far enough? Consider why in our personal lives so many give their time and money to causes. Is it because it is the right thing to do? Or because it makes us feel good? Sure, but often there is a deeper motivation: we thrive on the feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves.  

Now, map that feeling back to work. Don’t we want our people to be just as inspired? While your company might have an exceptional mission, sometimes stepping away from every day can significantly shift perspective for the better. Aligning teams around contributing back to their community can have an incredible effect, which maps directly back to performance and buy-in at work. Think I’m crazy? Let’s explore two big benefits that may come from giving back...


When you are running full steam ahead trying to grow your business, it’s easy to forget the importance of engaging and inspiring your team. Even if incredibly well intended, a fair number of leaders scramble to accomplish must-do work, without considering how to truly win their employees’ hearts and minds. News flash: default perks like free food and ping pong tables won’t achieve this.

By finding ways to aid your team in spending a portion of their time working with their colleague and community members to give back, you are ultimately encouraging better cross-functional relationships. This helps to break down team barriers, enhance morale, and provide new opportunities to connect. You get to see the best in your teammates: selfless acts focused on positive impact. You are showing your employees that your company has a bit more soul than just chasing profit. Very small investment to make for some exceptional lasting results.


Intrigued? Now it’s about selecting the right causes to partner with. Start by understanding what is important to your employees and to your customers. Often, you’ll see companies support big, high profile projects that have little to do with their business. While that work is certainly valued, if the people closest to you don’t see a correlation, you may not maximize the good that can come. By understanding and executing what those closest to your organization find valuable and worthwhile, you are deepening connections, affiliations, and ultimate buy-in. Bonus: when you contribute back in the community in areas your biggest constituents find meaningful, you build up the “goodwill” points. That means that when you do good by them, you’ve built the credibility for them to have your back in the future.   


Rather than getting over my head on the science of serotonin, I’ll just share what our team recently accomplished...  

Last week Rapid7 participated in a global day of service. Each office selected projects meaningful to them, and the entire day was organized by volunteers within the company. Over 800 people participated in 20 projects around the globe. About 3,200 hours of service provided in a period of one day. And the best part? It wasn’t just the organizations our teams supported that benefitted. Our people walked returned to work energized, inspired, and just plain feeling good. Pictures were shared throughout the day via social media, and one talented person created a summary video of the day from all the pictures submitted. People were thrilled not because they had a day away from their normal jobs; they were just happy to do meaningful work and make new friendships.

They came back to work ready to take on the world.

Christina Luconi is Chief People Officer for Rapid7. Follow her on Twitter: @peopleinnovator.

Image courtesy of Rapid7's Facebook page.