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Try bagging spuds to increase employee engagement

Posted by Louise Barnfield on February 20, 2010


For me, one of the most meaningful and satisfying goals that Meg sets her team each year is that of Community Service.

As a team, we’ve participated in a number of local events each year, helping at various food banks, and local shelter housing projects. I am always blown away by how much we can achieve in a very short time when we work together as a team.

This week we returned to Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), this time bagging spuds! Working together for just a couple of hours, we bagged 14,000lbs of potatoes, the equivalent of 11,000 meals’-worth. That felt pretty good…until we realized that through their various programs, ACCFB now distribute enough food for 300,000 meals weekly. This put our contribution in perspective, and showed us how much the community needs help from groups such as ours, in order to meet the demand – a demand that has almost doubled in the past 18 months as a direct result of the current economic climate.

This week’s event had an added bonus, since a number of colleagues were visiting HQ, some for the first time, from a variety of states and countries. With such a dispersed global team, we rarely have the opportunity to meet in person, and particularly to get to know new faces as our team grows. Several mentioned how much they appreciated participating in this event during their visit.

Many of us had been cooped up in a conference room for three very full days, and were feeling the effects of brain-overload. So, a complete diversion for a couple of hours, performing a manual task, conversing with friends and colleagues while at the same time doing something meaningful and helpful for others, did us all a power of good.

After each event, we gather somewhere locally for a ‘happy hour’ – another chance to chat with colleagues, and also to acknowledge our gratitude for our own more fortunate circumstances. The camaraderie that this instills benefits the whole organization, as the team spirit that it fosters spills over into our day-to-day collaboration at work.

I feel fortunate that Meg recognizes the value of giving our time and effort for the good of the community, and the beneficial effect it has on our team. Earlier this year, she blogged about her experience with colleagues as guests on Compassionate HR Blog Radio, discussing the various volunteer projects we have taken on in the past year, and in particular how we have been supported by Oracle to do so.

As they pointed out, the volunteering projects that we undertake are as much a benefit to us as individuals, and to our organization, as they are to the community. It is true that we have the satisfaction of accomplishing something meaningful together as a team, which increases employee engagement and encourages closer working relationships.

So, instead of trudging into the office in ‘Friday mode’, brain-dead from a week of meetings, I spent today catching up on tasks with more enthusiasm and with a far lighter frame-of-mind, thanks to our rewarding team ‘down-time’.

A big shout-out to two other TalentedApps contributors, Vivian and Keshav – I am so thankful that you guys never tire of organizing our crowd for these events! :-)

Photo: Anupma Sud

5 Responses to “Try bagging spuds to increase employee engagement”

  1. What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Louise, your wonderful post beautifully captures the feelings of camaraderie, purpose, service, accomplishment, fun and caring that filled the warehouse that day. Thank you!

  3. DC Jobs said

    Team building with a purpose! Sounds like a win/win situation. I hope more companies follow this example.

  4. Meg Bear said

    Thanks to everyone who participated in this event, it really was outstanding. Special thanks to Louise for blogging about it, Anupma for photographing it and Keshav and Vivian for organizing us all to the right place at the right time (with the right attire!).

  5. Vivian Wong said

    Great blog Louise! It’s actually funny to think that we started out searching for a local demolition project (like in Extreme Makeover) but we ended up bagging potatoes instead. We may not have destroyed or built any houses(yet) but emotionally it was just as rewarding. It sure brought all of us closer!! Thank you for the post!

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