Starbucks magnate Howard Schultz is one of many CEOs around the world that have embraced the idea of corporate social responsibility when it comes to how they run their companies.
You don’t have to be running a Fortune 500 company to be an ethically responsible company that embraces corporate social responsibility and all that it stands for. In fact, if you refuse to embrace it and all that it entails, it’s quite possible a strong majority of the people that work for you are currently unhappy in their jobs.
The definition of corporate social responsibility and the values and practices it embraces is a vast one. Each company that embraces it has their own mantra that’s used to describe it: community investment, social impact, corporate citizenship, sustainability and many others.
In a nutshell, corporate social responsibility is all about company ethics — how you treat the environment, the communities you serve and work in and your employees. Even your competitors.
This year and beyond, community social responsibility (CSR) needs to become an essential part of how you do business. Not just for maintaining your market presence, but also for reducing employee turnover and improving morale.
An Example of Poor Corporate Social Responsibility
How many companies would say they recycle religiously at their offices just to make themselves look like a socially responsible company? Likely most, but the reality is that many do not.
Get their employees alone in a room, safely out of the earshot of their boss, and many would say they don’t like what they do because their company claims to do one thing, then does another. There are countless other examples that could be used, but I’m sure you get the point.
Strong CSR = More Profits + More Employee Satisfaction
Companies with a strong CSR policy do better financially and attract (and retain) more top talent than their non CSR counterparts. Let’s examine how a good model can make employees feel better in their jobs:
1. CSR Gives Them a Sense of Purpose
Nielsen reports that during a recent survey asking employees if corporate social responsibility was important to them, 67 percent of the respondents replied that it was either essential or a strong preference when it comes to choosing the right employer. The Nielsen group has compiled plenty of data on this issue over the last few years. Learn more  about what they discovered when they surveyed your customers about their buying preferences with regards to CSR.
Employees are no longer focused just on the perks you offer which directly benefit them, such as on-site workout facilities, catered lunches, glorious 401ks, health benefits, etc. It’s important to them that you’re taking measures toward social responsibility and doing as much as you can to reduce your impact on their personal lives, communities, resources and the environment as a whole.
Say what you mean. Do as you say you’ll do. Give back more than you take away.
Keep the following in mind:
- CSR is more than just a public relation’s move.
- Employees should feel free to voice their opinions if something’s missing from your CSR policy.
- Employees should feel empowered by CSR and feel that they’re a major contributor toward the greater good you’re trying to create.
- Management should be completely on board and 100 percent committed to all CSR agendas.
2. Your CSR Agenda Needs to be Intimately Tied to Business Objectives
Your corporate social responsibility program needs to make sense for the business in order to make employees feel validated by it. There’s no one-off plan or primer that any single organization can follow to be successful in the eyes of employees, their communities and customer base.
The program needs to make sense and not feel like something that was just thrown together on a whim to make the company look good. Thus, your program needs to be as much a part of your business’s key objectives as creating limitless profits are.
CSR is part of your business’s objectives if:
- Company performance toward CSR objectives are agreed upon by everyone in the business.
- Metrics are not just measured for adherence, but are also a matter of public record (ie., posted on company website, newsletter, social media posts, etc.)
- The CSR program doesn’t detract from the company’s other goals, but rather complements some or many key objectives.
- The company founder and leadership, including investors, are excited and on-board with the plan.
- Several members of staff are devoted toward CSR objectives and working toward creation, implementation and performance-measuring during business hours (ie., they’re getting paid for it.)
- Elements of the company’s CSR program are embedded in the job descriptions of every employee (ie., it’s everyone’s responsibility to use the recycling containers provided, all employees are expected to conduct themselves as an extension of the company during off hours, etc.)
3. CSR Program Includes Being Socially Responsible to Your Employees, Too
The goal of a good CSR program and employee satisfaction doesn’t just lie in how you’re perceived by the public. It isn’t merely about making external improvements and being a good corporate neighbor. You have to help your employees grow and become better people, better professionals.
Once we stop growing, we start dying. Look at what happens to plant life in the fall; it dies. Trees continue to grow from one year to the next. When they stop growing, they start to decay and eventually die. People are much the same, and growing as an individual is important to all employees, whether they’re aware of this or not.
Nearly 60 percent of the millennials currently taking up the workforce state that professional growth is the key motivator that keeps them from leaving one company and moving on to another. This is a major consideration when it comes to employee retention, and a big reason that Starbucks and so many other modern companies are embracing the social responsibility model so fully.
How you can be socially responsible by helping employees grow:
- You have a personal development plan in place for all employees.
- Employees are allowed to work on side projects on company time.
- Everyone gets recognition for a job well done, while rewards are offered for exceptional performance.
- Cross-training and up-training opportunities are available to everyone and paid for by the company.
- Optional volunteer programs are offered where employees are able to help in the community (local or global) and the details are facilitated by the company.
As you’ve learned, corporate social responsibility isn’t just a company mantra to make you look good. It needs to be a part of your company’s corporate culture in order to be successful. Embrace social responsibility this year and watch your employee satisfaction ratings increase by leaps and bounds during the coming months.
High Five  Photo via Shutterstock