There’s a point in our lives where we look for greater purpose in the things that we do, especially when it comes to our employment. We begin to ask ourselves why we do it and who we do it for.Those questions come from a void or a sense of feeling unfulfilled in our daily lives that leads us on a quest to search for purpose. Most of the time those feelings come with our current job roles. You might like your employer or you might like your core responsibilities, but there’s something missing. That’s what happened to Michael Smith, General Manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, in the early part of his career when he worked as the hotel manager of Grand Hyatt Washington. He noticed there was little to no acknowledgement for black chefs and decided to do something about it. In 1994, he created the Taste of Heritage event, where he invited several black chefs from around the country to present special plates for people to buy in order to raise money for a culinary school scholarship. This was the first time Michael used his job role to help impact the community beyond the parameters of his company. Not only did he help send more aspiring black chefs to college, but he also created a spotlight for the talented black chefs who were making a name for themselves in the industry.From there, Michael continued to use his position and his influence to help impact the communities around him in his 30 plus years in the hospitality industry. Here are some ways you can use your current role to help create purpose in your core responsibilities and to use your skills and talents to impact the community around you:
There are many ways you can impact change within your company. If you see a problem or an issue at your company, try to fix it. The problem can be small or large, but with the right plan and pitch you might have a shot at improving your organization. Do you feel like your company is wasteful with it’s resources and energy? Pitch a recycling or sustainability program to your human resources department. If your company lacks in cultural programs that reflect the heritage of its employees, suggest starting up an affinity group. Just like Michael, you can spotlight a problem and help create awareness. This will not only expand your visibility within the company, but it will give you a chance to spend some of your time at work on something you're passionate about.
Michael has spent five years of his career helping to rebuild the Hyatt Regency New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. After being recognized by the mayor with a Proclamation from the City of New Orleans for his work during Katrina in evacuating 4,000 people through the hotel, he partnered with Brad Pitt for the fundraiser “A Night to Make it Right by the Hyatt,” which raised more than $4 million and built 20 homes in the lower ninth ward. “What I just saw was a city in need,”Michael said.He was able to use his role as general manager at an esteemed hotel in the community to put on a star-studded event to help raise money to build homes for people who lost everything during the hurricane. Find out if your company has a corporate responsibility department, discover what they are working on in terms of projects and volunteer some of your time. Suggest and pitch opportunities for the company to sponsor, host or raise money for. You can collect water to send to Flint, Michigan or pick a nearby school and sponsor them for the year with supplies, tutoring and mentorship. There are endless opportunities to help.
Partner with community organizations
Habitat for Humanity or even a local food pantry are great opportunities to get your company involved with the community. Partner with a non-profit and find ways to impact change on a monthly basis. Whether you collect items or volunteer your time on site, it will be a great way to bond with other employees while helping the community. These three ways to help your company while working will surely help spark that flame of passion and fill the sense of purpose you might have been looking for.