Best practise | CSR drives 'engagement, morale and teamwork', expert says

CSR drives 'engagement, morale and teamwork', expert says
CSR drives 'engagement, morale and teamwork', expert says

Organisations are starting to recognise the benefits that corporate social responsibility (CSR) can have for a business. For example, among the largest 250 companies in the world, 92% produced a CSR report in 2015, which informed shareholders and the public about the firm’s activities.

According to Harvard Business Review this number is an increase from 64% having such a report in 2005, meanwhile today’s Fortune Global 500 firms spend around £16billion ($20billion) a year on CSR activities.

While these figures are encouraging, employees have also indicated that they want employers to do more, as a study shared by the Huffington Post found 94% of Generation Z think companies should address critical issues. Similarly, in 2017 Cone Communications published a study that discovered 78% of people wanted companies to address social justice issues.

Last year also saw large numbers of protests take place by the Extinction Rebellion activists, who continued to champion sustainability and fight against climate change. With this in mind, how exactly should HR be driving a change when it comes to CSR, particularly during a pandemic?

A plethora of business benefits

Speaking to HR Grapevine, Katja Jones, Corporate & Community Fundraising Manager at Wood Green, The Animals Charity, explained that CSR initiatives are a valuable way to give back, while demonstrating that a company cares about its community will help to boost morale among employees and attract and retain talent. Never has this been more imperative than now, during the coronavirus pandemic, where employees’ wellbeing and productivity has taken a hit.

Statistics by CMI Research have backed this, citing the fall in wellbeing as higher for managers whose staff had parental responsibilities, elsewhere 69% of employees said they felt worried, stressed or anxious about their financial situation (The Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing 2019-20).

Jones explained that by adopting CSR activities, HR practitioners will see a ‘plethora of business benefits’. She added: “As HR managers, you have an opportunity to show that, beyond the PR benefits, CSR activity, in particular dedicated charity partnerships, can actually have a plethora of business benefits, ranging from increased staff retention and employee wellbeing, through to skills development and improved customer sentiment.”

She also pointed out that offering employees the opportunity to take part in CSR projects will lead to increased morale and teamwork, which can also improve employee turnover as a report by Good360 revealed that engaging in socially valuable projects can reduce employee turnover by around 50%.

“Engaging as much of the workforce as possible in your CSR initiatives is so important as it can have a real impact on staff morale and engagement, teamwork and collaboration skills, and also gives the individual the chance to feel like they personally, not just the organisation, have made a difference to a valuable cause,” Jones continued.

Choosing the right CSR activity

What you think may be the right activity to support may in fact conflict with your employees’ values, therefore it is important HR takes the lead to find out what staff are interested in and where they want to help. To find out try group discussions or surveys to gauge what is important to them. Alternatively, HR could also consider offering a number of volunteering days for each employee to take on an annual basis, to allow them to support a cause of their choice.

Jones concluded: “When staff members are united on one clear purpose CSR initiatives go far beyond just the tick box exercise. To achieve success in your CSR activity, ensure you take the time to select a cause that your workforce is passionate about.”

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