Six benefits of corporate social responsibility for your workforce

By Elaine Lam | Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019

Being a good corporate citizen can boost a company’s brand — and its bottom line. But corporate and social responsibility (CSR) practices can also play a key role in attracting and retaining top talent.

There’s a compelling business case for companies to engage in CSR practices. It can support brand awareness, increase positive media coverage of the company’s activities, and contribute to the well-being of the communities in which the business operates.

A comprehensive CSR program can also increase revenue. The 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study found that 87% of Americans will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.

The advantages go further. CSR can also deliver a surprising range of benefits for workplace teams. Here are six ways that CSR initiatives can help companies build a productive and loyal workforce.

1. Helping companies attract millennial talent

Attracting high-calibre candidates, including Gen Y professionals is essential for sustainable business growth. As a PWC report noted, millennials are ambitious, they have an appetite for learning, and importantly, they are the most tech-savvy generation of today’s workforce.

Millennials also have the weight of numbers. By 2020 they will comprise 50% of the global workforce. So it makes sense to take steps to ensure your business is successfully attracting the workforce of the future.

Many Hong Kong companies are doing just this. More than six out of ten (63%) have adjusted their hiring practices to gain the attention of top millennial talent according to Robert Half research.

A company’s CSR efforts can also contribute to millennial recruitment. The Millennial and Gen Z generations are increasingly seeking employers with a philanthropic culture that reflects their own identity and values.

As a guide, CSR organisation Engage For Good found 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. This highlights the need for a carefully considered approach to CSR.

2. Nurture employee fulfilment and loyalty

Contributing to the greater good is always rewarding, and this sense of reward can be just as powerful in a workplace environment as it is in employees’ private lives.

Three out of four people feel their job is more fulfilling when they have opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues according to a study by US-based Cone Communications.

This sense of personal fulfilment can even flow through to high employee retention rates — more so when employees are encouraged to become directly involved in CSR activities.

The same research found that seven out of ten people would be more loyal to a company that helps them actively contribute to CSR initiatives — a figure that rises to 83% of millennials.

3. CSR can be a morale booster

Many businesses have developed philanthropic giving programs that are aligned to the company’s mission and core values. However, when CSR programs expand beyond donating money to include volunteering activities, the rewards can be manifold.

By way of example, business leaders generally focus plenty of effort on ensuring their company provides rewarding roles. Yet volunteering activities can be tremendously satisfying for employees. And shared accomplishments outside of day-to-day duties can boost workplace confidence and optimism.

According to US researchseven out of ten business leaders say one of the benefits of CSR programs is the positive impact it has on staff morale.

4. Volunteering programs encourage engagement

Corporate volunteering also allows employees to connect with others and experience a sense of belonging and purpose.

Research from Europe confirms that when companies implement volunteering programs, their employees are more engaged — a valuable plus for any business.

A barrier to volunteerism success is finding enough time for giving back. One way to give employees a reasonable chance to get involved is by offering a choice of opportunities whenever possible. Also, make sure team members know how much personal time they are expected to give up to participate.

5. An effective team builder

Building a cohesive team is critical for any business yet it can be challenging in today’s multi-generational workplaces.

Over half (55%) of Hong Kong business leaders are taking steps to foster collaboration in the workplace through a greater focus on teamwork, brainstorming and relationship building across all company teams.

CSR initiatives can play a role here too.

Participation in corporate volunteering can be a successful team building exercise. Studies show that volunteering encourages high levels of support among co-workers and even with their supervisors.

6. Skills development

Involvement in CSR projects can help to develop existing skills, and foster new ones. Employees are able to apply their skills to fresh problems in new environments, encourage creative thinking and heighten the need to consider the return on investment of every dollar spent.

Engagement in CSR initiatives — be it fund-raising projects or volunteering, also offers useful opportunities for staff members to learn from one another, collaborate more closely with colleagues, and become involved in broad projects — which, potentially unlike their day jobs, may focus on specialist functions.

In addition, 76% of millennials report that volunteering helps to hone their leadership skills, and 75% say it fosters skills they can apply in the workplace. In fact, 70% of millennials feel companies should use volunteering as a professional development tool.

While corporate social responsibility initiatives require time, effort and resources, they can be a very successful investment. They can generate many positives for a business — including a more-connected team that works better together.

Elaine Lam

Associate Director of Robert Half Hong Kong. Connect with her.

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