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leadership lab

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

How much is giving back a part of your office's culture? You will be hard pressed to find a successful company who hasn't made an effort to spread its good fortune around. It's crucial for businesses big and small to make a difference in a way that is authentic and ties back to the organization's goals.

With the manpower and resources at their disposal, business leaders are in a unique position to make a difference. If every company came together to dedicate time, resources and, in some cases, funds to charities, the potential for positive change could be boundless. While a desire to give back without expecting anything in return is paramount, there's no doubt it can also have a positive impact on your workplace.

Dedicating your time and resources to a cause that your team cares about and inspiring others to do the same can increase employee engagement. Here are some lessons I have learned about the importance of giving back for organizations and how charitable initiatives can inspire loyalty.

A mindset of abundance inspires confidence

At LinkedIn, we hold "InDays," bringing employees together to engage in a group activity once a month. Last spring, we all came together to help clean up a local park. It was a simple task, but I heard from many employees that this particular InDay was meaningful to them and made them feel connected to the community and to our company.

When employees and clients see company leadership giving back sincerely, it creates a mindset of abundance. Investing in your community sends a strong message that your business is thriving and that you want others to share in your success. This inspires confidence in your business and by extension, trust in your leadership, which can have a positive impact on employee loyalty.

Shared experiences build relationships

This past year, LinkedIn worked with Junior Achievement to help high school students learn about what it takes to run a company – teaching valuable business and financial literacy skills. It was an incredible experience for everyone who participated and also applied the expertise of our employees in a meaningful way. Our team shared the satisfaction of having a positive effect on someone's life, which served as a powerful bonding tool.

Striving towards a common goal and supporting a cause that you believe in can create a sense of community among your employees. The strongest business relationships have a personal component, and providing your employees with shared experiences outside of the office can reinforce positive working relationships.

Culture is key when retaining top talent

To earn employees' loyalty, you must provide them with a workplace they can be proud of. Giving back is a critical component of creating a thriving workplace culture and ensures that your organization is about more than its bottom line. Lead by example and empower your employees to make a difference. By working together towards a cause that you are passionate about, you provide them with an opportunity to add value that extends beyond your company and into the community.

I have heard nothing but positive feedback from employees about how our company gives back. This year we are planning to continue to give back through our relationship with CivicAction, focusing is on combating youth unemployment.

Focus on the big picture

It is easy to get bogged down by balance sheets and bottom lines and lose sight of the bigger picture, but it is crucial that businesses recognize the power they have to improve their communities and the world. Celebrating and acting upon the potential of your employees to make a difference can empower them to strive for change, rather than concentrating on short-term gain. If you demonstrate the value of giving back to you, this can trickle down throughout your organization.

I believe that leaders have a social responsibility to take advantage of their position to make a positive change in the world and enable their employees to do the same. Employees remain loyal to leaders who inspire and empower them to achieve greatness. Demonstrating your commitment to a cause, and motivating others to follow you can have a powerful effect on your relationships with your employees, their relationships with each other and with the company as a whole. Once your company starts making giving back a priority, you'll find the opportunities to make change are limitless and the benefits are too.

Brian Church is country manager for Canada and head of sales solutions for North America at LinkedIn (@LinkedIn).

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