Your employee comes to you and asks you for some flexible time to join a local nonprofit board or for some funds to join a local civic organization. Do you pay for it? Why would you encourage your employees to spend time doing things that isn’t work? What is the financial justification for helping to connect your people to the community? Doesn’t helping your employees to network in the community increase their chances of finding a different job?

While no community strategy works to keep every employee, here are 5 reasons your company should help to connect your employees to the community.

  1. Keep your People in Town – When people are connected to a place, they are much less likely to leave that place. The employee who is on 2 boards, volunteers for the local theater, participates in community leadership programs, and is treasurer of their local Rotaract club has roots and is contributing to the economic development in your community.
  2. Connection Makes Employees Happier and More Productive – How does spending time outside of work make you more productive in your job? People are happier when they feel like they are connected to something bigger than themselves and have a purpose, and happier people are more productive. One University of Warwick study suggests that happier employees are 12% more productive.
  3. It Develops your People – Community leadership programs and opportunities often include elements of practical leadership development that will carry dividends into your organization.
  4. What is Good for Your Community is Good for your Company – The health of your business will be directly impacted by the health of your community. If your community is healthy, it will make it easier for you to attract and retain talent while also enjoy lower crime rates and a better standard of living. Helping the community helps your business.
  5. It’s Good PR – The first question someone asks at every networking event after “what is your name?” is “what do you do?”. Having people from your company answering this question with your company name as they work to help the community is great PR for your company. Who knows when a potential customer might be listening?

The bottom line is that keeping your employees inside your fence is a short-sided strategy. Encouraging your people to get out and get involved is a long term strategy that will yield several benefits. If you are worried that your people won’t come back, then work on making your business a better place to work. Don’t trap your employees. Get them connected.