Why CSR is a powerful employee engagement tool

By Ashraf Engineer, Vice-President – Content and Insights, India, MSLGROUP. This article was first published in the People’s Insights magazine The Future of Employee (Re)Engagement, and is re-published below.


“Which came first: the change-ready company or the change-ready employee?”

― Lorii Myers, author and entrepreneur 

It’s no secret that a fast-growing number of corporations are recognising that talent is crucial to success. While paychecks and incentives are only part of the draw, corporations are also consciously working on the bigger talent picture: employee engagement.

To describe it in terms of attitude, behaviour and business outcomes would be to cloak it in jargon. What it essentially does is establish a strong connect with employees so that they relate to the organisation’s values and beliefs. It offers them a strong reason to stay engaged with the organisation.

While there are several tools that can be used to engage employees better, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is emerging as an effective one.

A study by global research firm Ipsos suggested that CSR was a major draw for Indian talent.  According to the online survey, in which 18,150 employees participated, it is significant to 51% of employees in India that their employer behaved responsibility towards society.

Echoing that view, a Hewitt survey showed that businesses that invested in CSR would likely have a higher level of employee engagement and that the staff would:

  • consistently say positive things about the organisation
  • intend to stay with the organisation
  • strive to achieve above and beyond what was expected in their daily role

The survey went on to say that scaling down CSR activities would have a negative impact on employee motivation and retention.

A study by Net Impact in the US found that with all other things being equal, students said they would take up to a 35% pay cut to work for a company committed to CSR and as high as 45% for a job that had a social or environmental impact.

Net Impact’s Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012

In research conducted by Cone Millennial Cause group, detailed in the book ‘The 2020 Workplace’, 80% of Gen Y want to work for companies that are concerned about society.

For corporations, these are not just numbers; these are flashing signposts that indicate the way for talent attraction and retention. These numbers must be utilised well.

What better win-win situation than one in which companies get to retain talent cost-effectively and make a sustainable social impact. Not to forget, an inspired team will deliver inspiring results.

CSR initiatives give companies a human touch, the brand gets associated with the values it stands for and the people become representatives of those beliefs. The success of these initiatives lies in the way the company communicates and engages its employees consistently and over a period of time. Reporting these activities and sharing them on various platforms lends credibility and also wins the trust of the employees as well as other stakeholders.

Why employee engagement through CSR counts

Engagement through CSR empowers employees by instilling a sense of:

  1. Emotional attachment

    Employees are not always emotionally attached to their jobs, but a well-defined CSR engagement – by building attachment to a cause – can change that.

  2. Purpose

    Getting involved in a socially-engaging activity gives employees a sense of purpose. This, in turn, fuels productivity.

  3. Ownership

    An organisation that encourages active participation invariably promotes a sense of ownership, thereby reducing the risk of attrition.

While making career choices, a company that cares could become the differentiator.

MSLGROUP People's Lab

People’s Lab is MSLGROUP’s proprietary crowdsourcing platform & approach that helps organizations tap into people’s insight for innovation & change.

One Response to “Why CSR is a powerful employee engagement tool”

  1. Ashraf Engineer (@AshrafEngineer)

    RT @PeoplesLab: Why CSR is a powerful employee engagement tool by @AshrafEngineer http://t.co/33bAgjvSjw via @PeoplesLab


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