We know how a company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) can help their front-facing image, but as we continue to see the future of work evolve, we're seeing corporations begin to embrace the benefits a solid CSR program can have on employee engagement.
While a company's social impact strategy and influence on positive social change feeds into its marketing, it also positively impacts the productivity and morale for employees.
Employees are aligning themselves with an organization's brand identity and are now actively seeking organizations supporting social issues aligned with their values.
So why is it important to create a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program that resonates for employees? Read on to find out.
It Attracts New Talent and Helps Employee Retention
A solid CSR program can reduce employee turnover and engage your employees in a more authentic way.
We're seeing Millennial workers prioritize job opportunities based on a company's mission and social impact, and millennials are 70% more likely to be loyal to companies supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) or environmental efforts in their mission.
And as Gen Z begins to enter the workforce, 64% say they're more likely to work for a company addressing social justice issues.
"With the current ‘Great Resignation’ hitting businesses of all shapes and sizes, authentically leaning in to a cause is one proven way to attract like-minded employees who can bring their whole selves to work," Michele Egan, Vice President at national cause marketing agency, For Momentum, said. "This human-centric approach is not necessarily new, but is definitely on the rise."
According to For Momentum's 2018 annual research, there was a big jump in how companies viewed their employees' role when it came to CSR partnerships with nonprofits. In terms of the audience companies wanted to influence most with their CSR program, employees (61%) was almost equal to consumers (62%).
And with employee turnover and burnout high following a year+ in the pandemic, a strong company's culture, from core values, employee experience, and focused mission, can make all the difference.
Bottomline: corporate social responsibility is a business value that shouldn't be ignored.
It Makes Your Company Mission More Authentic
On paper, a company's mission is what it wants to change for everyday life and how its products or services seek to do that, but we all know it's much more.
A company's mission not only has the power to inspire customers to purchase and employees to stay, it gives the company more authenticity, especially in how it translates into their advocacy.
"Companies with strong cultures and core values tied to social impact partnerships and outcomes tend to perform better," Michele said. "Employees, shareholders, customers and other stakeholders see and feel the company expresses itself in an authentic way."
Through Cooleaf, Georgia's Own hosted online challenges for employees to raise funds for Make-a-Wish. Employees were also encouraged to post on social media, relating the company's core value in a more personal way.
It also helps everyone commit and keep focused on making a social impact.
As the co-founder of Okta Frederic Kerrest wrote when they launched their CSR program, "Making a commitment at the start helps ensure social good is at the forefront of your mission and woven into your company values as you grow."
It Gives Employees a Purpose and Increases Engagement
When companies have that strong set of brand values and mission, that emotional connection gives employees a stronger tie to the company but also gives an employee a sense of purpose at work.
According to McKinsey, people who find a purpose within their work are more likely to feel productive, happy, and healthy. And with 70% of employees defining their sense of purpose through their work, how your organization fosters that for your workforce matters.
For instance, in 2020, Cooleaf saw many organizations set DEI goals when it came to their company core values, along with their demographics and approach to CSR. Organizations partnered with employee resource groups (ERGs) to broach systemic change within their processes and to develop events, discussions, and activities to engage their team members too.
Many organizations engaged teams on Cooleaf, with online challenges to learn more about holidays like Cinco de Mayo and Juneteenth. Others encouraged volunteer days.
"There's a deeper appreciation for the diverse perspectives represented and an increased investment in employee resource groups (ERG’s)," Michele said. "Companies are giving ERG’s a seat at the table and the budget to support."
Seeing that an organization is invested to create change for good is a strong message that gets everyone involved.
It Builds Customer Loyalty
Your organization's CSR program is an extension of your messaging which not only resonates with your employees but also your customers. First, engaged teams become your biggest brand advocates which trickles to your potential customers. Second, spiked but growing prior to the pandemic we've seen a rise of conscious consumers who appreciate seeing authentic company missions from treatment of employees to handling of product.
For example, during Pride Month in June, many companies were accused of "rainbow-washing" in their marketing strategies, profiting by using the symbols and portraying LGBTQ+ allyship, but not supporting these communities with their internal practices.
The phrase “authentigration” captures the importance for companies to deepen their partnership strategies beyond PR stunts.
As a positive example of this, Linkedin announced in June 2021 that they'd pay affinity group leads. "The annual stipend is just one step in a more formal, systematized recognition plan," Michele said. "This is an excellent example of authentigrated leadership."
It's a Space for Good
When it comes down to it, your social impact strategy benefits all parties involved and it's a vehicle to support causes and be a change for good.
Especially this year, we saw a trend of many organizations igniting their efforts with addressing climate change, DEI, sustainability, and supporting local communities in their goals, inspiring employees and consumers all around.
During the start of the pandemic in March 2020, organizations used Cooleaf to encourage teams to donate points to support frontline workers.
Another positive trend is coalition building.
"What is so encouraging is to see companies link together to truly generate positive impact," Michele said. "From a cause marketing POV, this July retailers nationwide joined Boys & Girls Clubs of America in the largest Back to School cause campaign. There’s even more encouraging evidence of this behavior with millions of dollars committed by TikTok, Diageo North America and Mackensie Scott to HBCUs."
Your Social Impact Initiatives and Beyond
If you find yourself creating a CSR program later in the year, that's okay! We asked For Momentum's Michele for tips to set yourself up for success at any time.
1. Always make data-driven decisions.
It can get overwhelming but dig into social impact research and data. Check out For Momentum's 2021 Compendium of Social Impact data to get started.
2. Create a plan, but build in flexibility.
Set short and long term objectives, but leave room for flexibility, market shifts and unseen opportunities.
3. Engage an expert.
There's a lot to consider so feel free to reach out to teams like For Momentum who can be a strategic social impact partner. Reach out to For Momentum any time.