Author: Michael Scaletti
More and more in the modern era companies are expected to hold themselves to a higher standard, to focus on making a positive impact on their communities and the world and not simply on the bottom line. This is especially true among younger generations, like Millenials and Gen Z. Studies have suggested that many of them care more about the impact of the company they work for than about the paycheck they are receiving. This isn't to say that the bottom line should be ignored to focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Indeed, a recent report found that “corporate social responsibility can improve (the) … bottom line, in part by giving … the most engaged employees a reason to stay and work harder.”
It behooves companies, therefore, to invest and engage in CSR. It has a positive impact on attracting talent, on overall job satisfaction, and on general job performance, all of which can make a company run smoother.
The key, though, is knowing exactly how to invest and engage. And there is one central piece of advice I can give for companies looking to expand their efforts at CSR.
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to give an impression of insincerity with their CSR engagement. If employees think that the company is virtue signaling or "greenwashing" then it can actually have a negative effect on employee satisfaction and performance.
It is important then to ensure that you are making authentic efforts when engaging in CSR, focussing on a genuine commitment to the outcomes of the cause you are engaging with and not just on the appearance of that engagement. In an era of social media, when more people have access to information about your company and more people are informed than ever before, paying lip service to a cause without actually working towards meaningful change can cause a massive backlash, harming your brand and the trust of both your employees and customers.
Pay attention to results. Decide as a company what the outcome of your CSR initiative should be, set goals, and then work towards those goals. If you are focused on making those goals happen, your efforts can't help but be seen as authentic.
The bottom line is that employees care about your sincerity and authenticity. Even if they don't particularly care about whatever cause you are engaging with, they care why you are doing so. If you engage in genuine CSR, you will see positive effects on important workplace attitudes, including trust in top management, pride in the organization, job satisfaction, and the meaning they ascribe to their work in a positive way. Contrarily, if they perceive you to be greenwashing, those aspects will suffer.
Good luck out there, and remember to work for a better community, and a better world!