Reinventing CSR with Employee Engagement

December 12, 2019
Eliza Parish

Evolving Culture, Evolving Responsibility

Over the past decade, we have increasingly witnessed many companies begin to take a public stance on social issues.  In large part due to the evolution of the public and consumer taking a strong interest and position on social issues. This has forced many companies to be more transparent about their social responsibility, employee culture and charitable contributions.  In fact, many companies have even thread this into their whole being and business model (Patagonia, TOMS, Ben & Jerry’s).

Consumer demands are the driving force behind this, but employees are also playing a pivotal role in this evolution.  In that, employees want to work somewhere that has a good track record of social initiatives.  And really, employees are beginning to ask for more than that.  The traditional CSR model, which is primarily transactional, isn’t quite cutting it.  A new wave of employees and potential employees are looking for employer-provided opportunities to be involved in socially impactful programs.

Traditional CSR programs & Employee Engagement Programs

CSR programs and Employee Engagement programs traditionally tend to operate in two separate silos. Typical CSR programs are focused on direct initiatives with charitable organizations or cause marketing. These programs tend to be limited to leadership decisions and not vertically inclusive.

Further, in traditional CSR programs, “a company generates its profits and creates value without much consideration for wider societal consideration beyond shareholders and at times customers” (Corporate Social Responsibility, Rutgers). In essence, companies raise funds and make donations, but it has little to do with how they function as a company.

Similarly, employee engagement programs have traditionally focused on employee evaluation of productivity and corresponding factors, that also feel very transactional.  However, evolving interest in employee engagement strategies to boost retention and workplace culture, has begun to reshape how we think about workplace engagement.  As a result, some companies are trying to create a better work/life balance.  Shifting less focus on management structure and more on team structure and employee perks.

Innovations in a Holistic Approach to CSR and Engagement

Many companies are beginning to shift toward a more engaged approach to CSR and social impact.  And, early research shows that it’s making a difference in participation and value.  According to a Wespire report,

Average CSR program participation rates for companies with employee engagement strategies are double the participation rates found in the industry reports from traditional CSR programs (CSR Matters).

The Cone Communications Employee Engagement Survey provided some clear insight into what is now driving employee engagement, primarily: feeling valued as an individual, a company’s social responsibility record, and opportunities for employees to make a positive impact.  From this insight, it’s clear that CSR can provide a valuable channel for both external impact and internal workplace satisfaction.

Providing CSR opportunities to employees builds a positive culture.  Employee engagement and CSR teams can work together to create and invest in programs that encourage employee participation in social impact.  These types of programs are more holistically focused on employee contribution, impact, and company branding. Outcomes that you won’t get with a traditional CSR program or employee engagement program.

Inevitably, companies have more to gain from this type of innovative approach to CSR.  It’s also clear that employee satisfaction in the workplace is trending towards this strategy.  An evolution that is doubtful to change, as it continues to gain momentum.  If your company is interested in learning more about a comprehensive program for CSR and employee engagement – we can help!  Contact us directly below.


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