Boost Performance By Doing Good

“Devising and maintaining an atmosphere in which others can put a dent in the universe is the leader’s creative act.”Warren Bennis

Can doing good keep employees engaged and grow your business? You bet it can.


Ramping up altruism may well be the killer app in 2009 and early 2010 — a time when companies need their top talent to be firing on all cylinders to spur growth and renewal, but where conventional rewards such as pay raises and bonuses are hard to come by, according to Sylvia Ann Hewitt in her forthcoming book Top Talent: Keeping Performance Up When Business Is Down.


Hewitt is an economist, member of the World Economic Forum Council on the Gender Gap, and founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy where she directs the “Hidden Brain Drain”—a task force of 50 global companies committed to fully realizing female and multicultural talent.


Her research shows that high-potential employees are motivated by a desire to give back to their communities. These employees are increasingly seeking out employers that allow them to do so on the job. Real life examples and the associated returns? By integrating “doing good” into their business strategies, GE’s healthyimagination and Pfizer’s Global Access programs are expanding company revenue and attracting and retaining these key employees.

Weaving the ‘feel good’ factor into a go-to-market playbook gives high potential employees priceless psychic rewards, and a reason to stay, play and win, says Hewitt. This approach is certainly working for Ponni Subbiah — one of Pfizer’s most talented female leaders. “We all want to feel that we can have an impact on the world. That’s why I like Global Access. The fact that we’re going to increase access to our medicines in a part of the world where people are very needy …. that’s very gratifying for me.” And it’s good business.


While donations and volunteering are wonderful avenues for allowing your employees to give back, do not limit your company’s socially responsible efforts. Explore ways that your company can combine social responsibility and commercial viability by offering lower cost products to emerging markets or developing a new profitable solution to a social problem.

Adapted from Harvard Business Publishing

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Sandra Schwan

Sandra Schwan

Managing Partner at Evolving Strategies LLC
Sandra is the Managing Partner of Evolving Strategies LLC, a consulting firm helping companies and people learn, adapt and perform. Sandra holds a Master of Science degree in Adult Learning and Strategic Organizational Change from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Arkansas. Previous employers include the Corporate Executive Board, Lante Corporation, Kensington International, and Accenture where Sandra was awarded mentor of the year.

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  1. Thanks for the mention of Tim Sander’s book. I also enjoy his point of view. Sandy

  2. Sandy,
    Thanks for pointing to this upcoming release – promises to be an interesting read. Tim Sanders makes a similar proposal about the upside of corporate responsibility very colorfully in “Saving the World at Work.”

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