How supporting charities like Movember can boost workplace enthusiasm

‘Movember’ is in full-swing and workplaces Australia-wide are once again filled with men sporting freshly grown bristly moustaches in the name of charity.

Experts say this is providing a much-needed boost to workplace enthusiasm.

It’s a charitable time of year, with events such as The Sunday Age’s City2Sea held this Sunday also attracting the support of local businesses each year.

For the past three years, Jim’s Mowing franchisees have been supporting Movember and this year 150 franchisees are pushing an Aussie lawnmower more than 2740km from Hobart to Brisbane.

As well as raising over $23,000 for Movember, which supports research into men’s health issues, Jim’s Mowing divisional manager Greg Puzzolo told SmartCompany taking part in charity also helps team bonding and brings together franchisees from across Australia.

“I initially needed 120 franchisees for the trip, but in the end we actually had to stop franchisees from registering because we had 170, it’s been absolutely amazing,” he says.

“One of the beauties is that because everyone travels together for a day, they get to meet people they’d never get the opportunity to work with otherwise. The bonding and the talking has been fantastic, we talk about business, have a laugh and it’s just been brilliant.”

Puzzolo says supporting the charity has lifted the spirits of the franchisees, while also allowing for networking opportunities.

“The organising was a nightmare for me… but it’s been great for morale,” he says.

“I’ve been on the road for 15 out of 16 days so far and so they’ve gotten get to know me too and they’ve had the engagement… I’ve been able to give the franchisees ideas about different things they can try within the business too.”

The Jim’s Mowing team are walking along the east coast of Australia before completing the trek to Brisbane on November 28, where a party will be thrown to mark the trip’s completion.

Since the trip began in late October, Jim’s Mowing franchises in Melbourne and Tasmania have received an influx of business inquiries.

“It was never our intention to drum up business, it was always about the mow-a-thon, but we have been pretty fortunate and we’ve been featured in either local papers, online, TV or on radio 14 out of 16 days so far,” he says.

While Jim’s Mowing has been garnering attention, The Physio Co chief executive and author of the Culture is Everything blog, Tristan White, told SmartCompany smaller initiatives can be as effective.

“We have a small budget for our team members who work at aged care facilities to contribute to buying a painting or an initiative happening at the workplace where they work,” he says.

“We have two pieces of artwork from residents at aged care facilities…often a simple gesture to a local cause can have a much greater impact than when it’s a bigger initiative.”

White says getting involved in charity events is a good idea for businesses, but it needs to be done properly.

“There are some rules and criteria around it… It’s really important for it to be appropriate for your business and fits with your business’s values and you need to keep it fresh,” he says.

“It needs to continue to add value to your culture, rather than being a drag for your company to be involved in. If you do the same thing every year it can get repetitive.”

White says The Physio Co took part in Movember for three years, but got to a point where despite loving the charity, the employees weren’t as engaged and enthusiastic about participating.

“We had a few people who were counting down the days until it ended because they’d had enough. People losing energy or enthusiasm is something to look out for,” he says.

Now The Physio Co participates in The Age’s Run Melbourne charity event, which White says has helped improve the health of his employees.

The managing director of Our HR Company, Margaret Harrison, told SmartCompany supporting a cause teaches employees to work towards a single goal.

“Basically it creates a story within the company that they can all grasp onto, giving them one common goal. It gives them practice at gathering around a combined story, kind of like a business strategy,” she says.

Harrison says anything which breaks down barriers between staff is a good thing.

“The older employees in leadership also get off their pedestals and get involved so people get to see them as normal people who are emotionally involved and there isn’t usually much of an opportunity for this,” she says.

“But when you talk about culture it’s not just one thing, it’s a whole lot of small things which connect people. All the little things contribute to company culture.”

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