CEOs: How can you get employees engaged in CSR?

CEOs: How can you get employees engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility?

8 July 2021

Improving Corporate Social Responsibility is a commonly cited goal in many businesses. The irony is once your employees engage with in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it’s been shown that they engage more at work too. Sometimes the tough bit is getting the ball rolling.

More often than not, there’s good reason that your employees aren’t getting involved, so let’s run through some of the most common reasons – and what you can do about it.

Why aren’t my employees engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility?

There’s some of the top reasons that can put employees off from connecting with your CSR strategies.

  1. They think it’s just about reputation and ‘looking good’
  2. Their workload is too big and stressful to even consider it
  3. They don’t see anyone else in the company doing it
  4. They don’t think they’ll have anything to gain from it
  5. They aren’t aligned with your strategies or values

So, what can you do about it?

Adjust their workload

Hear us out on this one. If your employees are stressed and overworked, CSR activities will just seem like one more thing added on to a forever-growing to-do list. Although activities like volunteering have proven stress-reducing benefits – they might not be able to see past “how am I going to fit this all in?”.

So ensure that if you’re signing your team up to an activity, that they have the space and time to freely do it. Can that deadline be pushed back by a day? Is that routine afternoon task so important, that it takes precedence over your team member taking part in CSR? Could you considering buddying people up, so that one person can pick up some tasks (within reason) whilst the other is taking part in initiatives?

Being realistic about the level of commitment your staff can offer can help guide your decisions on what activities are right for your people and your business. But sometimes, all it takes is a small adjustment so that your employees can comfortably fit in an hour or two here or there, and feel supported by management.

Tips for a people-focused Corporate Social Responsibility program:
1. Think about your values, your purpose, and your mission. Communicate them to your employees.
 2. Talk to your people. What causes do they think align with your   business and its values? What do your people care about
 3. Use that information to find the right CSR activity.

Lead by example

One trend that we see all the time is that employees tend to embody the same habits that the executive staff do. In particular, if the decision makers are volunteering themselves, as well as keeping CSR front of mind by regularly discussing it during meetings, then employees will too. Simple!

Leading by example is such an effective method that really encourages your people to get behind your CSR. Show that you are practising what you preach: live and embody your values, and your passion for CSR will trickle-down through the organisation. And at the very least, your employees might get FOMO and want to get involved anyway! Win-win.

Choose CSR activities that your employees actually care about

We mentioned above that a common reason employees don’t engage with CSR is a lack of value alignment. This could mean one of two things: either your employee isn’t engaged with your values, or your CSR doesn’t align with your values.

Or they may have specific CSR efforts in mind. When designing a CSR strategy, we always recommend that you consider a few key things to ensure that your CSR program is suited to your people and the culture of your organisation;

  1. Think about your values, your purpose, and your mission. Communicate them to your employees.
  2. Talk to your people. What causes do they think align with your business and its values? What do your people care about?
  3. Use that information to find the right CSR activity.

Show them the benefits

Show your staff that there’s something in it for them too. Throw out the stereotypes, CSR doesn’t just mean sustainability and employee volunteering isn’t just about painting walls, doing litter-clean ups and bake sales. I mean, it could be, but there’s so many more opportunities than that.

Our CEO, Caroline, always says she wishes she could bottle the feel-good feeling that you get from doing something kind for others. With the sense of personal satisfaction, productivity boosting, and connecting with the community aside, a little thought-of benefit is that volunteering can provide you with professional development opportunities.

With various trustee, advisory and mentorship roles on offer – your people will have the opportunity to challenge their skill set in new and dynamic ways, allowing them to tap into new abilities that they could bring into your business. By learning skills in a different environment, employees can improve their ability to work cross-functions within your business and (research suggests) they bring their ‘whole self’ to work after CSR.

Recognise their efforts

Lastly, recognise the effort that they’re putting in. Nurture a positive work environment by thanking your employees for their extra contributions, and how they are helping build the company’s reputation going forward. A hand-written note or an acknowledgement can go a long way in promoting positive habits, and shows you really appreciate all their amazing work.

Our business engagement manager Fiona is absolutely passionate about getting people engaged in employee volunteering. If you have any questions, drop her a line and she’ll work her magic!

Or join our community here for monthly CSR insights and updates.

Join 100s of people and hear Caroline’s Thursday Thoughts.

Caroline has made it her life’s work to help people make more meaningful decisions to support their communities and she’s learned some golden nuggets along the way!

So, join Caroline each week for her ‘Thursday Thoughts’ on all things people, planet, philanthropy or purpose all served with sprinkle of fun (but unfortunately no prosecco) to inspire you.