Engaging with your community enriches company culture, employee development, and offers an inside advantage to local projects.
Investing in your local community can reap many benefits for your employees, for your company, and for the people whose lives are positively impacted. Engaging in organizations, non-profits, and Chambers of Commerce not only makes good business sense, but enriches company culture, supports employee development, and offers an inside advantage to projects that reflect the unique attributes of each community. At Croy, commitment to community is one of our core values, a mantra we work to support at the corporate and individual levels. There are several benefits and approaches that work for us that can be applied within your own department or firm.
The importance of community to your employees. Involvement in various community outlets can support a robust, positive company culture and employee development. For instance, stepping outside the office provides employees with the opportunity to connect with clients in new environments. Meeting other engineers or industry leaders can also provide a fresh outlook on possible solutions to design challenges, and allows your people to learn innovative technologies or trends and build teaming partnerships.
According to research conducted by Gallup, millennials report “opportunities to learn and grow” as one of the top three factors they consider when applying for a job. As a substantial portion of today’s workforce, millennials continue to influence corporate strategy and policies, and providing options for involvement for your team is important to recruitment, retention, and professional development.
While the reason for supporting employees’ investment in community outreach opportunities may be clear, the challenge can arise in implementation. Specifically, how do we determine which community opportunities are a best fit for our involvement? Here are a few approaches we take to achieve the right balance:
- Encourage employees to become involved in an organization that reflects their interest or passion. For many, this includes involvement in an industry-related organization, where they can connect with fellow engineers and/or industry leaders.
- Match team members to non-profits or community organizations that reflect their non-work-related interests. By supporting an organization that embodies their passion, the process of giving and investing time becomes more rewarding and meaningful, while also bringing focus and intention to their volunteer service.
A notable example of this at Croy is the involvement of our Georgia Engineering Services department lead, Scott McNally, PE. Scott grew up playing baseball, which eventually led to a scholarship to play for a Division I college program. While an injury ended his playing career early, Scott never lost his love for the game. He now works with Croy’s clients to design parks and recreation facilities across the southeast region. This also led him to serve on the board of directors for the Dave Krache Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to providing financial assistance to children so they can play sports. Not only does this opportunity provide an outlet for Scott to give back to his community in a meaningful way, but he has developed relationships that have resulted in new clients for our firm as well.
- Encourage employees to actively participate in their chosen organization(s) beyond nominal membership. Leadership development is a critical part of career development, and opportunities to learn these skills outside of the office are often more readily available. By leveraging community resources and involvement beyond simply serving as a volunteer or member, employees have an opportunity to gain valuable leadership experience and develop those necessary “soft skills” that translate back to leading a team and/or project at your firm.
At Croy, many of our team members who have invested their time in leadership positions on various committees, taskforces, boards, and other leadership positions have seen their confidence in leading internal teams grow. Ultimately, our goal is to encourage our team members to build relationships, develop leaderships skills, and follow their passions – and supporting various organizations in leadership positions, while giving back to communities, offers a perfect outlet for this success.
The importance of community to your business. In the last 20 years, our country has experienced the Great Recession, the COVID-19 pandemic, and historic inflation, which have all taken a toll on our businesses. Strong community relationships, supported by long-standing investment and involvement, have helped Croy weather the negative impacts of these economic fluctuations.
In addition, one of the crucial elements to creating lasting and impactful projects is working closely with the local community to understand their needs, challenges, and desires. Being “plugged-in” through various outlets can give your firm an inside look at the ever-changing priorities and needs of leaders, stakeholders, and residents. Ultimately, investment in all facets of the community demonstrates that your firm does not simply seek to get work out of a community, but that you are actively involved and invested in its success.
One of the many ways Croy’s external involvement has supported communities throughout Georgia is through the support of infrastructure funding opportunities that allow our clients to construct their projects. Organizations like the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia and local Chambers of Commerce often provide an opportunity for companies to engage in the process of advocating for these critical issues. A great example is Georgia’s House Bill 170 – “The Transportation Funding Act of 2015.” This transportation funding bill has resulted in approximately $1 billion of annual funding for transportation infrastructure projects across the state.
The importance of community to Croy. Our firm was founded in 2005 by James “Jim” M. Croy, Sr., PE. Jim understood that involvement in the local community – government, non-profits, and educational institutions – was the backbone of a successful business. He instilled this belief throughout our company, giving monetary donations, offering in-kind professional services, and supporting employees who wanted to volunteer with these organizations which has instilled in our culture that community is what drives our mission.
As our firm transitioned ownership last year, our executive team has maintained this commitment to community. As a result, we launched our inaugural “Croy Cares Week,” an initiative which offered a variety of opportunities for employees to participate in either volunteer work or supply drives. We intentionally selected opportunities that benefited organizations local to each of our offices. Even with participation optional, we had nearly 60 percent of our team members across all our offices engage.
While investing in our local communities reaps benefits for our employees and our business, we also genuinely care for the people in the places where we live and work, and we recognize the impact we can have on their success. As the saying goes, “rising tides lift all ships.” At Croy, we understand that our relationship with our local communities is mutually beneficial, and we look forward to many years of continued partnership.
Gregory Teague, PE is the chief executive officer at Croy Engineering. He can be reached at email@example.com.