Corporate social responsibility, or CSR as it’s more commonly known, has become a buzz-phrase in the business world as increasing numbers of companies recognise the importance of CSR and the positive effect it can have.
As well as obvious benefits to the community and environment that charitable activities through a structured CSR programme can bring, CSR also has potential to increase engagement levels amongst staff, a benefit that is often overlooked by employers. Instead of CSR activities being carried out at top level with employees largely unaware of successes and statistics, a number of companies are now bringing their CSR activities in-house and placing responsibility for the strategy in the hands of their employees.
Here are some suggestions of ways to use CSR involvement to increase employee engagement:
- Form an in-house CSR committee made up of employees representing different areas of the business. Recruit volunteers to join and appoint a leader with responsibility for guiding the group and executing the strategy. Different jobs could be distributed amongst the committee according to individual talents, e.g. treasurer, researcher. Motivate employees to join the committee by showcasing the transferrable skills that can be gained from taking on the challenge of CSR.
- Ensure buy-in from senior management from the start, as the success of CSR depends on their support. If employees see that the activities are fully led and supported from the top, they will take the committee and it’s objectives seriously instead of seeing it as a fleeting initiative with no progression.
- Choose which charities to support carefully. Ensure that their objectives tie in with the company’s values and engage with and form good relationships with them. Holding a launch event to which everyone in the company is invited to will get the CSR activities off to a flying start. Invite the charities to give presentations, allowing them to showcase to employees the work that they do. Employees will feel more motivated to help if they are aware of the charity as a human entity and not just a faceless organisation.
- Keep the momentum going by thinking of fun and different ways to raise money. Not everyone will be interested in generic sporting events, so use imagination to think of something different. A fun and easy way to raise some money with minimal effort is by having monthly dress-down days where all staff pay a small amount of money to take part.
- Try to keep the committee as interactive as possible. Ask employees for their ideas for future money-raising activities so that they feel included. Companies could even offer incentives for the best ideas.
- Consider giving employees a day off in addition to their annual leave entitlement which (if they decide to) can be used to volunteer for the chosen charities. Not only is this easy to administer, it will act as an incentive to take part. If possible, send teams to volunteer together and mix the teams so that employees work with different people. This will develop team working skills.
- Ensure employees are kept updated about the CSR committee, the charities it is supporting and it’s main achievements. Publicise the successes of the committee in the firm newsletter or set up a page on the firm intranet, posting regular updates, photos and blog posts.
- As well as engaging current employees, the CSR programme can be used as a recruitment tool. Many potential employees, when choosing a new company, will look at it’s CSR activities and companies which share similar values to themselves. Ensure to mention the CSR initiative on the recruitment pages of the company website or at interviews.
- Finally, once the CSR committee is underway, it is important to keep motivation going and build the profile, instead of letting the project die away after the initial buzz. Hold frequent events and keep CSR at the forefront of company projects, letting momentum build up over time.
In today’s fierce economic climate, employers are constantly seeking non-monetary ways to engage employees with the Firm’s strategy. Forming a CSR committee can be a simple way of creating engagement whilst raising money for some great causes at the same time. Employees will learn new skills whilst working in a team and being part of a group that makes a positive change. They will have a more positive perception of the company overall if they perceive them to be fair employers with a commitment to contributing to the environment around them.