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Engaging Employees Around CSR

By Kerri Warner, Senior Vice President Employee Practice, North America, MSLGROUP

The state of employee engagement isn’t revealed simply through an annual survey, but self-evident in the corporate culture – the habits of mind and behavior that leaders and employees express every day.

When working with clients who want to improve employee engagement, we start with the end in mind. We ask clients, “when employees are engaged, what will they be thinking, feeling and doing differently from what they are today and how will this impact your business?

This establishes the aspiration for engagement in ways that can then be measured and actioned upon – and tied to organizational goals.

The very process of bringing together a group of leaders who haven’t had this conversation together before is the first step in building alignment, shared accountability and then a multi-channel strategy to drive engagement. Then we get tactical, co-creating a set of specific activities that reflect the desired state of engagement.

Employees CSR - Kerri Warner

Three elements are critical to creating or changing habits of mind & behavior

CLARITY of message > CONSISTENCY of actions & behaviors, starting with leaders > CONTRAST showing a visual element that makes people take notice

Often, our clients need to drive employee engagement around a specific program such as a CSR or a ‘giving back’ initiative. This is a particularly effective approach with two clear advantages

CSR programs often need or want employee participation to be successful, which means employees can bring ‘life’ into work vs. the more familiar bringing ‘work’ home into life.

When employees are granted time ‘off’ to participate in giving back programs, it proves that the company aligns values with actions. Employees who might otherwise set time aside on a weekend or holiday to give back, can instead take their personal time into their work time to do something that matters to them.

This reinforces that the employee’s values are shared with their employer, thus creating a deeper connection and inspiring greater loyalty.

CSR programs often appeal to employees across a wide demographic.

It has been well-documented that millennials are shaping the workplace of the future immensely and that they greatly value a company’s CSR activities – so much so, that it is a consideration for them in employment decisions. What’s less discussed is the value older workers also place on giving back.

It’s these Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, like myself, who have or are successfully navigating their career path and then pausing to reflect on the need to not just work with purpose, but to do purposeful work. For some, this means abandoning corporate careers.

For others, it means engaging as fully as they can in their company’s “giving back” programs.

By meeting the needs of different demographics, there is a compelling communications message for all audiences that goes directly to the heart of what matters to all.

Employee engagement is both a result of well-planned ‘giving back’ programs and also a catalyst to achieving CSR goals. In this way, looking holistically at employee engagement in conjunction with CSR has great upside for all stakeholders.

This article is a part of MSLGROUP’s sustainability report A Chance for Change: The Tipping Point for Sustainable Business.

Kerri Warner

 

Kerri helps leaders achieve their business objectives by enhancing employee communications and engagement. Along with her team, we imagine, co-create and execute engagement solutions that earn our clients’ trust and loyalty every day.

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