Put Off Procrastination: CSR Is Good For Employees And The Business
By Catherine Blades, Aflac
A recent Aflac study found that 69 percent of employees believe it is extremely or very important for U.S. companies to act socially responsible.2 So, a strong CSR effort helps companies increase employee happiness and retain top talent. Clearly, HR managers already recognize the need and want for CSR, because in that same survey, 80 percent of workers in HR roles said that CSR is extremely or very important.2
But the business impact of CSR is not only limited to employees. According to Reputation Institute, the world’s top companies understand how giving back connects with brand identity. Their 2018 Corporate Reputation Survey, found that companies with the strongest consumer reputation consistently demonstrate delivery of brand promises through corporate citizenship.3 In addition, 87 percent of consumers say they will buy products or services based on a company’s values, while 76 percent will boycott a company whose values they do not approve of.4 So, sincerely supporting the right causes can also help improve consumer favorability, creating tangible positive results in the form of increased sales.
Given the business reason for CSR, in conjunction with the essential good that giving brings to those in need, employers and HR managers should look for ways to encourage employees to participate in company CSR endeavors. With that in mind, here are three key strategies to boost your CSR programs:
1. You Cannot Fake Authenticity
Avoid the temptation to check the CSR box with small, unconnected gestures and move on if you want to connect CSR with your employees. Workers can discern if a CSR campaign is genuine or if the company is merely going through the motions. In fact, 65 percent of American workers said they will do research to determine authenticity when a company takes a stand on a social or environmental issue.4 If you are not putting in the requisite effort to convince employees that your company walks the walk, they may not sincerely devote their time to a campaign. And if your workforce is not fully aligned with your CSR efforts, how can you expect consumers to be?
2. Appeal to the Masses
As of 2018, millennials now account for a higher percentage of the U.S. workforce than any other generation.5 And they surprisingly believe that corporations can make a difference, with roughly three-quarters of young workers seeing multinational corporations as having the potential to help solve society’s economic, environmental and social challenges.6 As such, make sure volunteering opportunities line up with your workforce demographics. For example, millennials tend to enjoy contributing to community good using elbow grease, so consider including such efforts when designing and implementing your CSR strategy. As a bonus, that kind of work lends itself to organic social media sharing more than typical in-office CSR work.
3. Rally Around the Right Cause
Most companies’ CSR plans involve smaller, one-off efforts, such as sponsoring an annual toy donation drive or visiting a local soup kitchen. These endeavors should not be discounted – every charitable deed matters – but companies that go the extra mile to target meaningful, sustainable causes aligning with their business can reap the rewards in employee and consumer loyalty. A 2018 Benevity study found that turnover was reduced by 57 percent for employees actively engaged in the company giving and volunteering efforts.7
One example of a relevant, enduring CSR effort is Aflac’s devotion to childhood cancer awareness and treatment, which began in 1995 and has raised more than $127 million for childhood cancer research, treatment, and programs. As a leading provider and pioneer of cancer insurance, this cause matters both to Aflac and to the company’s employees – particularly because of how many lives cancer touches every day.
When done right, a worthwhile, year-long CSR emphasis will not only help people in need, but it can also help boost employee engagement and generate renewed consumer enthusiasm. But attaining a solid CSR program takes the same kind of planning, execution and follow-through as any other major office-wide effort. It requires commitment from the top down in order to get employees on board with your CSR vision and spur them to good works.
Do not fall into the temptation to procrastinate on doing good. With proper planning and intentionality, employers can help their employees – and the business – by springing into action and reaping the rewards of giving back to the community every season of the year.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a solicitation.
1 The Economist. “Parkinson’s Law.” Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
2 Aflac’s 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility Survey. Accessed Oct. 15, 2018. Aflac.com/acsr.
3 Reputation Institute. “Most Reputable Companies in the United States in 2018.” Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
4 Cone Communications. “2017 Cone Communications CSR Study.” Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
5 Pew Research Center. “Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force.” Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
6 Deloitte. “The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018.” Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
7 Benevity. “Benevity Study Links Employee-Centric Corporate Goodness Programs to Big Gains in Retention.” Accessed Oct. 15, 2018.
Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999.