Steps for employers

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and volunteering schemes have become a priority throughout workplaces over the last few years. More companies recognise that these activities help to create a positive reputation and boost employee morale. At the same time they demonstrate the business’ commitment to social issues.

Employees are beginning to expect more from employers than just their pay. Increasingly they place significant importance in working for an organisation that promotes change, a positive workplace and can demonstrate its positive impact on society and the environment.

However, building a valued CSR and volunteering scheme requires strategic planning. Similarly it needs to consider employees’ interests, organisational change, culture, and societal needs. So, what steps can employers take to build a CSR scheme that will be valued by their employees.

1. Delivering successful change for good

It’s important to note that the amount of value employees place on CSR and volunteering activities can be highly subjective.

Therefore, to build a valued CSR scheme, employers must seek to understand the needs and wants of their employees. This can be done by conducting surveys, running focus groups or holding individual interviews to gather insights into your employees’ interests, values and the causes they care about.

Once the necessary feedback has been gathered, employers can create a CSR scheme that is a good fit for the workforce. This will ensure that the scheme is well-received and embraced by everyone, right from the very beginning. Additionally it will make them feel appreciated, valued and heard.

Schemes promoting CSR are not “one size fits all”. They should be tailored to the size and scope of the company, considering its resources, goals, and its employee’s needs. It should also be flexible enough to adjust as the company grows and changes and should be regularly reviewed and updated.

2. Align with your organisational values

It is also important to make sure that any proposed CSR and volunteering scheme aligns with your overall values, mission and strategic objectives. This will ensure that any activities chosen are in line with your long-term goals and reflect your core beliefs. This alignment not only creates a sense of purpose and coherence but also allows employees to see the connection between their work and the broader social impact.

3. Involve employees in the strategy

It is important to involve employees in the development, planning and transformation of the scheme right from the beginning. This will ensure that it is designed to meet the needs of the team and encourage ‘buy-in’.

To achieve this, it’s a good idea to actively seek out input, ideas, and feedback from employees to foster a sense of ownership and engagement. You can do this by convening committees, implementing suggestion boxes, or even running dedicated brainstorming sessions.

4. Encourage a culture of flexibility

For the CSR scheme to be successful, you should aim to offer flexibility in terms of when and how employees can participate. This can include options for flexible working hours, designated volunteering days, or paid time off for volunteering.

Flexibility allows employees to engage without significant disruptions to their work responsibilities. This ensures that everyone can find a balance between their day-to-day role and their CSR activities. It also gives the business an opportunity to make meaningful contributions to their communities.

Flexible CSR policies can additionally help to attract and retain talent, as employees increasingly seek out meaningful work experiences.

5. Celebrate employee involvement

Once a CSR scheme has been implemented, it is important to regularly acknowledge and celebrate your employees’ participation. By doing so, you’ll maintain interest and promote the activity internally.

You can recognise the team’s contributions through public recognition, awards, or internal newsletters. Each of these which will help generate a ‘buzz’, but could also inspire others to join in as the scheme becomes more entrenched.

6. Continuously change and improve

Designing and implementing a CSR scheme is just the start of the journey. It is important to regularly assess and evaluate the effectiveness of the scheme. This can be done using surveys, feedback and evaluations. You can use the information provided to adjust, change, introduce new initiatives, or explore partnerships that align with changing employee and societal needs.

While building a CSR scheme may take a while, the effort to create a successful CSR scheme will be well worth the time invested, for both the business and your employees.