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How to Create Highly Engaged Employees with a Social Responsibility Program 

Companies whose employees are highly engaged have three times the operating margin and earn four times the earnings per share of companies with low employee engagement.

Keeping employees engaged can lead to longer retention and lower staffing costs. But a new global study by Korn Ferry finds that only 36% of employees are ‘highly engaged’. Since it costs companies 6-9 months’ salary to train a new salaried employee, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, it’s to every company’s advantage to turn that around.

Here’s one way for CEOs to reverse this trend. A large majority (87%) of the Korn Ferry study respondents said they feel that linking leadership development with an organization’s social responsibility efforts would have a positive impact on overall staff engagement and performance.

An additional Korn Ferry study shows that employees’ feelings about their jobs are improved when they work for a company whose culture aligns with their own values. In particular, millennials surveyed said that their number one reason for choosing one job over another is a buy-in to the company’s mission statement.

Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey shows that millennials have strong values and those values are apparent in the employers they choose. While they continue to express a positive view of business’ role in society, millennials would like companies to focus more on people and purpose and less on profits. They are seeking out employers with similar values.

As corporate social responsibility initiatives gain traction, companies are looking to find new ways to link social responsibility to profitability. Initiatives such as AMD’s ‘green teams’ get employees involved while saving the environment and saving the company money. This semiconductor company asked their green teams to work together to help reduce waste, save energy and conserve water.  Their director of corporate responsibility, Tim Mohin, said that 96% of team members said they now feel a deeper level of engagement to the company.

IBM designed a CSR initiative that is not unlike a corporate Peace Corps; their CSR program asks employees to bring their skills to companies in countries designated by IBM as an emerging market. The employees work and live in these developing countries, growing their global mindset while helping others.

Another company that seems to be doing it right is Xerox. They started their Community Involvement Program in 1974, and since then more than half a million employees have gotten involved. Employees participate in community-focused actions for causes they care about.

A Hewlett & Associates study of 230 workplaces with more than 10,000 employees found that companies with strong sustainability programs had higher morale, more company loyalty, their public image was stronger, and they were more efficient.

Another study, conducted by Achieve, the research arm of Forte Interactive, shows that employees prefer to participate in company-wide volunteer projects, rather than donation-based giving, so organize team- or company-wide initiatives that allow everyone to work together.

The same study shows that companies who are adding CSR programs need to make sure the entire staff knows about the initiatives. Often employees don’t participate because they are not encouraged to get involved or they simply do not feel their participation matters.



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