Charles Antis, CEO of Antis Roofing & Waterproofing, thinks he’s wacky. “Helping others is in my DNA, I don’t know why.” Guess what? Deep down, you’re as wacky as Charles (unless you’re an extreme sociopath).
Because a solitary human in the wild is pathetic, evolution has ensured serving others is hardwired into our genetics. Unlike a grizzly bear, alone we cannot typically bring down a bison, rear offspring or secure shelter. Humans survived by banding together to hunt woolly mammoth, scare off prowling lions, keep sprightly toddlers from drowning in the river and otherwise survive harsh natural conditions. Indeed, our capacity to help each other increased so dramatically over the last 2.5 million years that our brains had to grow 300 percent. The new brain matter brought us mirror neurons, which literally feel the pain of another; the secretion of feel-good endorphins when we serve others; and many other physiological biases toward service.
Charles’ compassion might not make him an unusual person, but what he does with it does. Unlike most CEO’s, he deliberately unleashes employees’ caring side at work. Employees who perform well, for example, are recognized at staff meetings with a $25 giving card to support the charitable organization of their choice. At the following staff meeting, recipients share what causes they supported and why. Shedding a tear or two, as colleagues explain why their donation went toward eradicating cancer or helping disabled youth, is common at the weekly meetings.
Since 2009, Antis has provided every roof installation of every home built by Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, where the company is based. Also, Antis employees, customers and other stakeholders can often be seen hammering and sawing at Habitat house builds. They also support Ronald McDonald House Charities and many other organizations.
After touring the Antis building and talking to several employees, I got the impression that they enjoyed working. One said “We never know what the workday will bring, but know it will have impact!” Instead of the cold sterility of most corporate spaces, the Antis office is warm and inviting.
Recently, an employee by the name of Ever Hernandez asked Charles “If I donate my Saturday, can you provide the materials so that I can fix a leaky deck and help a family be safe and dry?” Ever met a homeowner who was suffering from cancer and automatically considered how his work skills, supported by his employer, could help.
By creating a culture that values helping others through everyday work, Charles appears to have done something extraordinary. He has designed a workplace well-suited for the soft-hearted helpful creatures that we humans are.
Charles and I will present Menial Can Be Meaningful, too: How to Infuse Menial Jobs with Purpose and Set Up a Path for Growth at Sustainable Brands ’17 Detroit on Thursday, May 25, from 9am-10am. Join us in exploring why and how to ignite compassion at work and connect with 2,000+ brand and sustainability leaders in Detroit for a collective conversation about how brands can position themselves for success against the backdrop of changing societal needs!
May 11, 2017
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