Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Engagement

Thu, Sep 23, 2010


Companies which don’t pay heed to the calls for an increased sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in this day and age are leaving themselves at a huge disadvantage, and not least because their workers both want and expect them to. 

Employees are not just employees, but individuals with social consciences too.  Whether we are talking about putting out a company-wide appeal for donations to help others in the wake of a disaster, switching to environmentally-friendly products or demonstrating a commitment to improving the quality of life of employees and their families, workers want to know that their employers are doing their bit, and if they are not, then research demonstrates clearly that their attitudes towards their employers will be adversely affected, they will fail to be fully engaged and their performance will not be all it could be.  In fact, in one study, CSR was found to be the third most important driver of employee engagement overall and the company’s reputation for social responsibility also featured amongst the top 10 drivers.

Having a strong reputation in terms of CSR does not, of course, just impact on the engagement of existing workers and the ability to retain their services, but also on a company’s ability to attract new talent.  As potential employees seek out employers whose values and principles are closely aligned to their own, it is to those who demonstrate higher levels of social awareness and responsibility that they will turn.    

A strong commitment to CSR also appears to have an impact on how workers perceive their senior leaders.  In those companies with a good record in terms of CSR, senior managers are viewed by the majority as being high in integrity and so more likely to keep their word and follow through on their promises. 

What is important when considering incorporating a CSR strategy into a business though, is that it is done properly.  Companies which pay lip service to CSR or use it as a form of window dressing and don’t truly integrate it into their business, not only risk failing to engage their workers effectively, but even being seen as hypocrites and imposters.  Care also needs to be taken to ensure that rather than tackling CSR from a compliance standpoint, relevant policies speak to workers in terms of shared values.

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