Getting creative with CSR

I recently chaired a meeting with my colleagues to discuss three important subjects: our declining weekend brunch revenues, our declining corporate social responsibility charity contributions and what appears to be the declining health of many of our staff members due to the large numbers of heavy smokers in our ranks.

I will share with readers the radical remedial actions I have taken and will continue to take to reduce the smoking epidemic and its deadly impact upon our people and our business in a later post, but for now let me share the rather creative way in which I came up with a combined solution to the other two major issues, a solution that has proven to be a great success.

Several months ago I purchased a professional Ping-Pong table, paddles and balls for my associates to use during their tea breaks, but there was little interest from them, as most were tired after a busy shift and just wanted to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea with their colleagues and perhaps watch a little sport on TV, which is perfectly understandable.

So I decided to place the shiny blue table in my hotel lobby during our Friday (equivalent to Sunday elsewhere) brunch, and then ask our guests to make a donation to our disabled children’s fund if they wanted to “pay and play” a game with me or with a local champion, with the added incentive of enjoying a free lunch for their entire family, with my compliments, if they win the match.

The guests’ reactions and the donations on the first day were impressive, bringing smiles to many players, and hopefully many more smiles to needy disabled children throughout the Kingdom, as the foundation which supports them should be receiving upwards of US$1,000 a month from our big-hearted customers based upon the first days pay-and-play results. 

The Ping-Pong promotion, which will continue throughout the year, also “serves” to remind everyone that even a small amount of regular physical exercise is recommended and essential for good health, especially here in Saudi Arabia, which has one of the fastest-growing diabetes populations in the world, due mainly to a lethargic lifestyle and a diet rich in fat and sugar.

And finally, the name of our new Friday brunch is “Get Fresh and Fit on Fridays,” which I feel is entirely appropriate. Our customers can choose to pay and play and then dine from our new Friday brunch buffet menu, which has been specially designed by our in-house dietician and wellness consultants in collaboration with our executive chef to “match” the pay-and-play concept.

How do you combine your CSR efforts with your business objectives in order to best serve your internal and external associates, brand, owners and the community? I would like to hear from you.