What does it mean to be generous in the workplace? Is that generosity measured in dollars and cents, donations to the corporate sponsored nonprofits, or participation in office collections for a colleague’s birthday or the office pot luck holiday celebration? Or is workplace generosity something more than that?
Every year I select a theme for my company to provide guidance to my employees on how to grow into leaders within their community and become successful in their careers. I have been doing this for close to 20 years and some of the past themes have included character, initiative, perseverance, action and impact. Last year’s theme was INSPIRE and I challenged my employees to really think about what they wanted to inspire others to do and what it would take to be the type of person and employee who inspired others to take those actions. The theme I have chosen for 2019 is generosity.
Generosity should not be confused with charity. Charity is providing help or relief to those in need. It is focused on the act of providing for those who are lacking something, whether that is food, money or shelter. Generosity is an act of giving regardless of the existence of any need in the recipient. To me, being generous is giving abundantly, not just of money, but of your time and resources. It means doing more than the minimum, not for personal gain, but because it is the right thing to do.
Generosity in the workplace can be small actions that have positive impact on those around you, such as inviting a new employee to lunch so they don’t feel excluded from the team, volunteering to stay late to help someone who is struggling to understand a new process or product, or cross training in another area to relieve work backups while someone is on leave.
Being generous means not keeping a tally of what is due and what is owed but giving because it is in your capacity to do so. You can’t control what others do and how they act or treat others, but you can control your own actions and your response to the actions of others. Being generous at work means giving abundantly of your skills, talents and competencies regardless of what others on the team are willing to give. Don’t refuse to perform better or strive for more because a colleague or supervisor doesn’t give more than the bare minimum or doesn’t always give out as much recognition as you think you should get. Don’t use their yardstick to measure your capacity to make a difference in the team – instead measure yourself on what you are able to do and give. If you are not giving abundantly or using all the skills you have, you are holding yourself back. The only person who suffers when you hold back on giving everything you have is you, because you will not be satisfied when you aren’t allowing yourself to give generously of yourself.
One of the common traits I have seen in leaders I admire the most is generosity. They are always thinking about how they can give to others, whether it is the company they represent, their employees, or their community. People who are generous are often filled with an energy that draws you to them and inspires you to make a difference. This ability to make an impact through their actions is a part of what makes them a great leader, but the root of that is their generosity. Mother Teresa said that, “Joy is a sign of Generosity. When you are full of joy, you move faster and want to go around doing good to everyone.”
As we begin 2019, I encourage my employees to be filled with generosity – to do more and give more than ever before. It is through our actions and our generosity that we open doors for others with disabilities who are still waiting on their chance to give of their skills and competencies in the workplace. I encourage you to take that next step and make a difference in the lives of others by opening up more opportunities in the workforce for people with disabilities.
For businesses that have hired people with disabilities in the past or for those looking to start inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce, do so this year with generosity. Don’t limit your talent pool by excluding people with disabilities because you aren’t sure how to do so successfully or you haven’t done so in the past. Widen the lens of what inclusion means by allowing yourself access to this talent pool in all areas of your company; it will make your company stronger and more productive than ever before.
Remember, generosity is not a trait of the ordinary, but rather is an ideal toward which we must aspire. It is a higher standard that we all must strive toward and it starts by setting a higher standard for ourselves and giving of ourselves and our talents in abundance.
Learn more about our past annual themes.