Comment: Supporting your local community

By: David Boyce, CEO, NZ Trucking Association


NZTA offers a few tips on how businesses can positively engage more with their community

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Engaging with your local community is good for your business; it distinguishes you from your competitors, attracts loyal customers, and helps you to engage with your employees.

It’s good business practice and should be included as part of your overall business strategy. Businesses that engage with their local community enjoy many positive benefits. Community engagement not only makes employees and business owners feel good but it also puts them in touch with the real issues affecting their community.

A business that engages and partners with the community will get positive recognition from the wider community and helps you build an ethical business reputation. This also helps to promote loyalty and motivation with your employees and gives them the opportunity to learn new skills outside their normal area of expertise.

Engaging with the community helps to raise the profile of your business and is a great marketing tool that differentiates you from your competitors. There are many positive benefits for your business, including:

  • Improved business reputation and brand recognition
  • Creates greater opportunities for new business
  • Improves your relationship with the wider community
  • Improves your employees wellbeing and loyalty to your business
  • Improves employee retention
  • Helps improve customer relationships and loyalty to your business
  • Creates opportunities to market and advertise your business to a wider audience
  • Helps your business attract positive media coverage
  • Increases your potential employee base, as you’re perceived to be a good employer

Increasingly, community groups are struggling for resources and are always on the lookout for support from the business community. This does not necessarily mean that you need to donate money or services. There are many other ways you can help, such as providing expertise or advice. It may be providing a meeting room for a local community committee, the provision of employees as volunteer staff for community events, free storage space, the free use of some underutilised equipment, or even using your network of business contacts to provide assistance.

Start off small and build your relationships with the community from there but have a long-term plan for community engagement.

Many businesses nowadays, especially larger profit, non-profit, and government organisations, measure their community engagement as part of an accounting framework called ‘Triple bottom line’ reporting, which measures not only financial profit but also social and environmental sustainability. This can be an important consideration for your business when dealing with some of these larger organisations.

It’s good for your business to get your employees involved. It helps with team building and employee engagement and morale. Organise regular community projects: it may be getting the team together to cook a meal at a local children’s home every three months, or it could be helping the local aged care group with some gardening or cleaning, or even helping to bag fertiliser for the local scout’s fundraiser.

Many businesses are now setting aside one day a year where staff can go out into the community on behalf of the business to provide organised community service. Time this to coincide with scheduled downtime periods.

Include on your business emails or website the community groups you support. Provide reports to employees and customers about your community involvement. This is good for the community groups profile and for your business, and it doesn’t cost you anything. There are many other good reasons for your business to give back to the community:

  • It helps in developing new skills. Helping in the community is an opportunity for your business and employees to be exposed to new, interesting, and challenging opportunities. These new skills can be beneficial to your business.
  • It’s a great opportunity to expand your network of connections; this in turn can often lead to new business opportunities.
  • This is a great way for your employees to develop as a person, helping to boost self-esteem, knowing that they are helping others helps them feel better about themselves, and makes them more engaged in your business.
  • This can also help you and your employees to gain a new perspective on life. Life can sometimes be hard, but when you’re seeing people that are a lot worse off than you are, it can help you to put your own life challenges into perspective.
  • The New Zealand Trucking Association regularly engages with the community on many levels. An example of this is the Safety MAN Road Safety Truck, which travels around New Zealand visiting schools and community events delivering the ‘Share the Road with Big Trucks’ programme, which is aimed at raising awareness with the wider community about how to be safe around big trucks on the road.
  • As part of the programme, the New Zealand Trucking Association runs an interactive demonstration with participants to show them the blind spots around a truck where cyclists, pedestrians, and other road users are unable to be seen by the truck driver. This includes participants having the opportunity to sit in the cab of the Safety MAN Road Safety Truck, which is generously sponsored by the wider trucking industry.
  • For many of the participants, this is the first time that they had ever sat in the cab of a truck and is an experience that they will never forget. The aim of the safety display is to highlight to vulnerable road users the visibility issues that the truck driver faces on a daily basis.

The New Zealand Trucking Association is pleased to have the opportunity to engage with the community and to make more people aware of the important safety issues when they are close to a truck. We’re hopeful that these initiatives will encourage more people to feel safe and confident enough to share the road with big trucks.  

The New Zealand Trucking Association is proud to support local community organisations. We can be contacted on 0800 338 338 or info@nztruckingassn.co.nz.

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