Social responsibility boosts employee engagement

2007

Employees who are satisfied with their organisation's commitment to social and environmental responsibility are likely to be more positive, more engaged and more productive than those working for less responsible employers.

A strong commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) has an impact on a wide range of employee attitudes, according to a survey by Sirota Survey Intelligence, fostering positive views about their employer in key areas such as its sense of direction, competitiveness, integrity and interest in their well-being.

In all, some seven out of 10 employees gave their employer's commitment to CSR the thumbs-up, according to the survey of 1.6 million employees from more than 70 organisations.

"Businesses that recognize the importance of social responsibility often have employees who tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, adopt similar values, and become more committed to achieving success within the industry," said Douglas Klein, President of Sirota Survey Intelligence."

One of the most startling statistics to emerge from the survey is the difference in attitude towards senior management in organisations that are seen as having a strong CSR commitment.

Seven out of 10 employees in these organisations rated senior management as having high integrity compares with just one in five employees who were negative about their employer's CSR record.

"Employee views of CSR are connected with a broader assessment of the character of senior leadership – meaning that management can be relied on to follow through on what they say," said Klein.

"However, leaders who are seen as incapable of following through are unlikely to be regarded as being socially responsible."

It is a similar story when it comes to senior management's sense of direction. Some two-thirds of employees who are satisfied with their employer's CSR commitment feel that senior management has a strong sense of direction compared to just 18 per cent in less enlightened organisations.

"Effective leaders connect the dots for their employees," said Klein. "When employees question the time or money spent on certain social initiatives or any other activities, an effective leader will demonstrate the strategic importance these programs play in supporting the interests of the business."

The effect of these positive attitudes on employee engagement is equally startling. When employee are positive about their organisation's CSR commitment, employee engagement rises to 86 per cent. When employees are negative about their employer's CSR activities, only 37 per cent are highly engaged.

And unsurprisingly, twice as many employees in the former group (82 per cent) feel their organisation is highly competitive in the marketplace as those in the latter.

According to Douglas Klein, much of this difference can be ascribed to the simply fact that a sense of pride is a major driver of both morale and results.

"People want to be associated with a successful organization that has a positive image," he said.

"Employees do not divide the moral compass of their company into one part for employees and another part for the community," he continued.

"Their employers' commitment to corporate social responsibility is critical in conveying that the organization acts in their best interests, and is dedicated to treating them fairly and equitably."

"To employees, CSR and business success go together. Companies that enhance their reputations through CSR perform better, and generate greater employee loyalty from workers."