Posted on May. 17th' 21
Caroline Holley

Recently there’s been a lot of coverage in the media about corporate social responsibility and the companies launching such initiatives. Many organizations see charitable outreach as an opportunity to raise their profile while doing good.

But we’re a little different here at TALOS Engineered Products. Corporate social responsibility has been one of our foundational pillars from the beginning — although the objective was not to impress others. Instead, when TALOS was established in 2012, the founders set out “to show how business can improve lives and love others.” That statement underpins our entire company culture.

Community engagement through both volunteerism and monetary donations has occurred here from the start. Annually, TALOS sets a goal for total community outreach hours, calculated both in time and by monetary donation ($10 equals one hour), and every year we’ve exceeded that goal.

In fact, when my role was created over a decade ago, boosting employee engagement in community outreach was one of my top mandates. And, while I love every part of my job, it’s the community outreach piece that truly has my heart. I’m gratified to report that — as our company has grown from 50 employees to more than 200 in the past five years — our ability to set higher goals while discovering and reaching even more persons in need has grown as well.

How do we decide whom to help?

TALOS’ leadership decided early on that our community outreach efforts should be locally focused on Lewisburg, Tennessee (and more recently in La Vergne, where we just opened a second facility). We sensed that employees would prefer to give back to their home community, and that has proven true.

Originally, selecting which charitable organizations to support fell to me. While that worked for a while, I suspected that if we opened up the recipient selection process to our team, participation might increase. I also believed that there were many opportunities to serve others that I was not aware of.

Two years ago, we enacted a new process for selecting recipients. Each department is assigned a month, and that group picks the beneficiary for that timeframe. Anyone in the company can choose to participate. Participation is never mandatory; rather, we prefer that our employees pick the opportunities that resonate most strongly with them.

By sharing the decision-making process company-wide, TALOS has vastly expanded the number of persons who receive our help, and our employees have become even more invested in the process. To date, every employee has participated in at least one outreach effort annually. Most volunteer for many, many more.

How we help in our community

Although we do raise funds, TALOS’ primary goal is to invest time and assist however we are needed. Whether that’s painting walls, replacing ceiling tiles, donating and serving food at homeless shelters, remodeling buildings, or participating in walk-a-thons, marathons or golf outings, our people prefer to be hands’ on.

Why? It’s very rewarding to see for yourself how your actions are making a positive difference in someone else’s life. It’s harder to see your impact when donating money (although, with COVID dominating 2020, most of our outreach efforts were monetary due to safety restrictions). Just a few of the organizations we’ve helped over the past decade include HOPEtownIn His Image Pregnancy Resource CenterTennessee Hunters for the Hungry, and the Child Advocacy Center.

Not every community outreach opportunity targets a formal organization; some help individuals within our company. We call this “In Reach.” For example, one department raised funds to purchase the materials needed to construct a wheelchair ramp for an employee’s husband — then built it. Another department raised money to help cover a temporary employee’s rent and expenses after her home caught fire, leaving her and her family homeless. When three employees were in cancer treatments, that month’s department raised funds to help pay their bills.

One of the most rewarding (and fun) outreach opportunities — which gets 100% participation every year — happens during the holidays. Called “Convey Hope,” each employee receives $100 cash and is grouped with others from different departments. The groups pool their money and decide how to spend it to spread holiday cheer.

Convey Hope groups have gone to the supermarket and paid for shoppers’ groceries. They’ve dropped into nursing homes to sing carols and deliver Christmas gifts. They’ve sought out veterans who were down on their luck and paid their bills. The creativity of our employees in determining how to benefit others never ceases to amaze me.

The other benefit of community outreach

While TALOS’ emphasis on volunteering and providing financial support to individuals and not-for-profit organizations certainly has made a positive impact in our local communities, the most dramatic impact we’ve made has been in employee engagement. I’m not the only one who’s observed this:

We have extremely high employee retention and engagement at TALOS, with annual turnover averaging less than 4%. I often hear that it’s in part due to how we prioritize service. I’m proud to be a part of a company that continues “to show how business can improve lives and love others.”

Want to learn more about our corporate social responsibility efforts, and how you can introduce your own initiative? I’d be glad to share more details about just one of the ways TALOS sets itself apart from other conveyor manufacturers and suppliers. Contact us.