Social responsibility (formerly more commonly known as Corporate Social Responsibility) is increasingly a board-room agenda item as organisations accept behaving responsibly has a huge impact on how they are perceived and is not just a ‘nice thing to do’. In these enlightened times it’s a given that companies must be socially responsible. But tough economic conditions undoubtedly have an impact – after all a company’s foremost responsibility is to do well and not to get involved in charitable schemes. So why should boards continue to discuss social responsibility (SR) now we are in a recession?
The answer lies in employee engagement. Recent research compiled by Best Companies Ltd. from organisations who entered the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For lists have uncovered some surprising truths linking social responsibility and employee engagement.
While you might assume that this correlation isn’t as high as, for instance, how managers motivate their team – one of the fundamental factors in engagement, there is still a significant association. 60% of engaged employees felt that their organisations do enough to protect the environment compared to 32% of disengaged employees responding to the same question.
That’s not to say that there isn’t cynicism among employees. In response to a statement that explored if the individual believed their organisation’s support of worthy causes is driven by a desire for good publicity, 32% of respondents agreed. Although this may not be the reality behind the motivation, this misconception can have a serious impact on engagement and ultimately on how the organisation is perceived in the wider community.
This clearly indicates the need for ‘honest-broker’ behaviour by leaders who are involved in SR. They need to make sure that each employee not only is engaged in this activity but also understands why the organisation does it.
In essence, employees need to see that social responsibility isn’t a ‘bolt on’. Communicate clearly, openly and regularly to ensure all of your employees know why support of worthy causes is integral to your organisational values.
Every organisation that participates in the Best Companies Accreditation Standard and The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For rankings gets an overview of how their employees feel across the Best Companies eight factor engagement model. Using their world-class Workplace Insight Tool (WIT), a bespoke web-based solution for in-depth insights into responses from the survey, organisations can drill down to the root cause of disengagement to help them put in place plans for positive change in employee engagement.
Registration for the Best Companies Accreditation Standard and The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For process is now open.