Speaking to a large employer recently, they disclosed that the second most important engagement driver for their business was Sustainability/ CSR.
The ability to give their time to good causes, to impact on their environment, to do the right thing, to work for a company that takes its responsibility seriously, these are major factors in why people work for their employers.
It is supported by research by Great Place To Work.
Of course, it is also supported by the Edelman Trust Barometer – especially in their 2016 report which highlighted the link between ethical leadership and employee engagement.
Yet many organisations still flirt with CSR, often pushing it to the periphery of their business and reporting. So what needs to be done to put it front and centre?
First and foremost, be clear about the value to the business, colleagues and the community. It’s not necessarily easy to calculate the value, but it’s worth doing the analysis to show the very real impact that a concerted focus on CSR can make.
Leaders lead the way. Yes, this can be said about everything, but it’s nowhere more relevant here. From showing ethical leadership to actually taking part in volunteering programmes, Leaders will give colleagues the permission to get involved themselves.
Create a strong, business-aligned narrative. CSR, the way the business operates, its purpose and impact, are as relevant to clients and investors as it is to colleagues. Create a narrative that shows how stronger the business is because of its responsibilities.
Put it at the centre of engagement. This is not extra-curricular or a separate programme. This is a key driver in your engagement strategy. Make people proud, involved and inspired, and you will see the benefits. CSR is often an opportunity for employees to learn skills and gain experiences away from the normal pressures of work, and to become more rounded individuals because of this.
Measure. We come back to the value to the business and the wider community. It’s important to measure employees’ engagement and gather feedback, as well as measure the impact for the business and specific causes and communities.
Finally, have fun and remember, CSR is not just for Christmas…