As CSR gets closer to the mainstream, organizations are employing a wide range of community involvement strategies. Additionally, organizations investing in CSR initiatives can expect to see spikes in levels of employee engagement and overall employee job satisfaction.
As markets and technologies have opened up and the global influence, wealth and reach of businesses have grown, a new public awareness has been created, resulting in a need for greater business responsibility. Political liberalization, often a driver for market liberalization and privatization, has prompted the idea that with increases in revenue and influence, businesses should also assume greater public responsibility.
There is no debating the pressures that companies face from a range of stakeholders to operate in a manner that is more socially and environmentally responsible. Today, businesses are asked to play a vital role in addressing complex issues of poverty alleviation, environmental concerns, human and labour rights, as well as the rights of indigenous people.
Additionally, the growing influence of millennials brings great expectations for organizations to do much more than ever before. The working millennial today have higher expectations than ever before when it comes to their employers’ corporate social activities. This highly-influential generation demands a CSR approach of their employer that is relevant in today’s global climate and addresses the most pressing issues in a way that is conscientious, ethically responsible, politically correct and environmentally-friendly.
The millennial perspective is also no longer specific to just millennials themselves. Aside from being a key demographic and a principal target audience for almost every product and service in the market today, millennials also have great powers of persuasion when it comes to influencing market trends and shaping aspects of business perspective. If generations X and Y are the workforce of the future, it is in the best interests of any organization seeking to attract talent, to align their corporate values to be in keeping with this 20th century perspective.
This brings us to the link between employee engagement and corporate social responsibility. Employee engagement plays the role of key differentiator when it comes to driving performance. What sets an engaged employee apart from his or her peers is the level of discretionary effort they exert to further the organization’s interests and achieve outlined goals. A fully engaged employee is actively involved in work, feels a personal connection to the organization and is willing to go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction. Such employees are either high-performing or high-potential individuals, and it is in the company’s best interests to retain them.
On the other hand, the partially engaged employee does the minimum to get by, concentrates on the work at hand, and adds little extra value. At best, these employees are unproductive. At worst, they actively undermine the efforts and positivity of other employees.
Dale Carnegie India partnered with the National Human Resource Development Network (NHRDN) to survey over 1200 executives, individual contributors, managers and chief officers across India, to delve deeper into what makes or breaks engagement. The objective of this research was to identify the factors that influence employee engagement positively. Interestingly; pride in one’s organization is a key driver, with a strong effect on employee engagement.
Corporate Ethics and Contributions to the Community and CSR initiatives were seen to be one of the strongest motivating factors, leading to the most positive scores in India where organizational pride was concerned. 48% agreed that the firm they worked for had strong ethics, and another 48% were proud of the contributions made by their company to the community at large.
A company’s employees - current, prospective and even retirees - are a primary audience for CSR programs. Global opinion surveys indicate that employees are more likely to be loyal to their companies if they perceive them to be socially responsible. One of the greatest challenges in developing an employee engagement program is tailoring it to capitalize on the core competencies of the business. Pragmatic organizations should recognize the business benefits of sharing CSR practices with employees, by including them as key players in the structuring and implementation of CSR goals, especially since the same skills and resources that give them a competitive advantage in business can be used to implement a remarkable employee engagement program.
For instance, for the last two years at Dale Carnegie Training, we have conceptualized and executed an annual global event where our worldwide franchisees partner with NGO’s and non-profits local to their communities, to provide complimentary leadership training and life skills to underprivileged youth. Being an expert and market-leader in the area of facilitation, the training has behind it years of accrued expertise, contextualization and fine-tuning of the material for different audiences. As the training is delivered complimentary by our own Dale Carnegie Certified trainers, employees are that much closer to the initiative. Everyone has a part to play in planning the event, setting it up and ensuring it runs smoothly; meaning that much more satisfaction gained from giving back to society. Named, the ‘Global Day of Giving’, the event is close to our hearts because of the enduring nature of the material; and also because in a nation like ours, skills mean everything in the context of employment and productivity.
So if there is a link between CSR activities, organizational pride and employee engagement, suffice it to say that employee engagement and CSR are almost directly linked. In order for employees to be engaged, ensure that your organization’s CSR activities do not occur in a vacuum. The best, most symbiotic CSR relationships are created by harnessing employee potential, channelling it, and making a valuable contribution to society.