You may think of your company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), or community involvement plan, as being good for your community and for employee morale. It is. But did you know that it’s also good for your general business, including your bottom line? From easing succession plan burdens to promoting business acumen, a well-communicated CSR is good for every aspect of your business.
That’s why HR business partners, organizational development leaders, internal communications, marketing and recruiting should get involved. Together.
1. Improve employee engagement and retention.
Because the economy is improving, people are more likely to move to another company. Unengaged employees or those looking for career advancement are ready to get engaged or promotion at another company.
That’s bad for a business in a few ways, including the fact that the average cost for turnover is about $50,000 per person.
If you conduct exit interviews as a part of your role, you’re acquainted with the many reasons why people leave their jobs. Those reasons typically include lack of career development opportunities, little exposure to company decisions or strategy, and issues with managers and peers.
What could solve all of those issues? Community involvement.
Many companies enable employees to volunteer at least one paid work day. Here’s why this makes a difference:
- For employees looking to develop their careers, suggest they work on their development with a nonprofit. Nonprofits are always looking for assistance on their boards as well as deep expertise in technology, marketing, accounting and legal matters. If your employee is considering developing managerial skills, have them manage volunteers. This enables them, on company time, to help a nonprofit they feel strongly about while developing their skills and careers.
- For employees looking for exposure to company decisions, enable them to serve on your company’s CSR board. They’ll get visibility into and a chance to help make company decisions about community involvement. Deciding where to give and how much provides insight into larger company goals. Employees will also build relationships with company leaders.
- For employees looking to improve relationships with management and peers, suggest that they volunteer in teams. Team building through volunteering binds people together and gives them a sense of purpose – from licking envelopes for a big donation campaign to building houses for a group like Habitat for Humanity.
Employees will feel better about the company while improving themselves and giving back. They’ll be engaged. And as the Dale Carnegie Training organization has noted, companies with engaged employees outperform unengaged companies by up to 202%. And employees who are engaged are 12% more productive. Gallup indicates that companies with high engagement have bigger benefits:
- 10% better customer ratings
- 22% more profitable
- 48% fewer safety incidents
- 41% quality defects
Engaged employees who are developing their relationships and talents benefit employees and the company overall.
2. Recruit top talent.
What you may not know is that many potential employees are trying to align themselves to companies that think like they do. In fact, you can even save money when making an offer. Forbes found that many employees would take a 15% pay cut to make a difference, and here’s how:
- 35% would accept reduced wages to work for a company with a committed CSR.
- 45% would take a pay cut for a job that makes a social or environmental impact.
- 58% would accept a lower salary to work at a company with shared values.
That trend is growing with the generations coming into the workforce. Forbes shared Cone Millennial Cause group’s results, where they discovered “80% of 13-25 year olds wanted to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society.”
More than just potentially saving money on salaries and ensuring your organization appeals to the upcoming workforce, you’ll get better employees.
3. Retain and acquire customers.
Your current customer base chose your company for several reasons – price, quality, etc. But what keeps them? Why might they buy more? Relationships and shared values.
Marketing employees know people want to choose companies that align with their values, even if your company markets to businesses, not consumers. There are people in B2B making these same decisions; they want to align their personal values with their company’s. (In great companies, these values are the same.)
What about acquiring new customers? Prospects want to know why they should trust you and choose your products and services over another company’s. Most importantly, there’s magic when there’s shared values. Nielsen provided data that indicates people buy products and services from companies that are doing good deeds.
Start with the basics and build from there. Ask your team the following:
- Do customers know your values and your community commitment?
- Do they know why it’s important to you? For example, if you’re a healthcare company maybe you want to ensure there’s more preventive care for low-income families.
- Do they know which charities your company gives to with donations of time and money (in-kind donations and direct contributions with matching)?
- Are they benefiting from these contributions?
4. Expand your sphere of influence.
You’re not involved in the community to get kudos. But don’t undervalue people’s desire to make a difference. People will connect with that passion, even if they’re not a potential employee, employee or a customer. Business partners and community leaders will flock to you if you make it clear what’s important to you and why. Those same leaders may even be the same network you can talk to about reducing corporate taxes or establishing key partnerships to improve products and services.
5. Meet company goals.
No doubt your company goals are oriented around two main levers: reduce cost and increase revenue. Many of the suggestions above already work on those levers.
You’ll reduce cost by reducing:
- employee turnover.
- customer turnover.
- recruiting time and money.
You’ll increase revenue by:
- Acquiring new customers.
- Selling new products and services to current customers.
- Improving employee engagement and thereby productivity.
- Building a community of businesses and leaders rooting for you.
How do you share your CSR?
You probably have a strategy and various events planned. Your community involvement commitment should be shared.
- Use your external website, making it easier for organizations to match missions with where you’d like to give. Consider making a form to make it easier on nonprofits.
- Discuss the CSR in all-employee meetings; hopefully, there’s an executive sponsor and a team associated with your CSR. If not, seek one out! At least annually, your executives should talk about how you’re helping the community.
- Discuss the CSR in manager meetings, with expectations on managers to share information.
- Discuss it when talking about your brand. Nonprofits your organization is involved with should reflect your brand. If not, and you’re in Marketing, volunteer for the CSR team to help them understand the value of alignment.
- Consider a community report, giving information back to the community on where you’re making a difference. Larger companies typically distribute to nonprofits and community leaders. Smaller companies can add information to their website or use it as talking points when discussing with leaders.
- Share information with the nonprofits you’re connected to.
- Ask ambassadors, including your change agents — such as HR business partners and communicators, to help spread the information even personally. For example, if your internal communications team is desperate to improve communication in an area, why not get that manager involved in a communications volunteer project? Better still, have both the internal communications person and that manager work together.
- Use your intranet in several locations and a variety of reasons:
- What your CSR is and why. For example, if you’re REI, you may have the environment as one of your biggest causes. This should be in the same section as other core information about your company.
- Volunteer opportunities for employees, including your leaders and teams, to get more information and sign up for events.
- Policies about how much time employees have available. Not only should this be in your CSR section, but also in your policies area.
- Procedures on how to get involved with the CSR team.
- Highlights, such as through news, with employees (including photos!) joining in on activities, metrics, and how it makes an impact to your community. In a perfect world, employees would be encouraged to share their own pictures.
- Skill advancement for employees who want to grow, such as gain those leadership skills mentioned above. For example, consider adding leadership opportunities in your manager’s portal or provide this information to HR business partners and communicators who are evangelizing your CSR.
- Metrics on how your company and employees have made a difference — in terms of personal stories, dollars given, time given, and items provided.
- Goals for how you want to make a difference.
- Charitable giving and donation opportunities for employees to donate and the company to match as well as where to donate items.
- Guidance on how employees can get the company involved in causes that match their CSR parameters.
- Brand alignment. Add some information to your brand area, where you can correlate how giving relates to the brand. Also, don’t forget to provide links to your company store for people who want to represent the company accurately.
- Kudos. Don’t forget to thank employees who demonstrate your company values and brand.
Have you shared your CSR?
We love hearing from HR, OD and internal communications professionals in the trenches. Have you shared your CSR? What happened?That’s our specialty! Let us show you an intranet that can highlight your community involvement efforts.