One of the top concerns that Human Resources directors face is how to keep employees in the workplace actively engaged. For example, a survey in Southeast Asia found that the average employee engagement score across Singapore is 47%, behind the global average of 53%. India (79%), Thailand (72%) and Hong Kong (63%) produced the highest scores in the study.
The study reports that strong communication between leadership and employees is one of the key drivers of active engagement. Another factor is an employee’s recognition of company goals. So how can a business communicate to employees these objectives during the day-to-day grind?
One surprising way is through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs implemented in the workplace. It makes a lot of sense: in crafting CSR initiatives, much thought and research go into ensuring that CSR initiatives mirror the business values. Encouraging employees to join CSR programs allows them to identify with such values.
If you don’t think this makes sense, check out this study. Published by Frontiers in Psychology, it sees a significant relationship between employee perceptions of CSR and engagement. Furthermore, the findings suggest that perceived CSR does impact employees because it allows them to show their authentic selves at work. That means the ability to express their other interests outside of work, which includes serving the community.
Now that you know how CSR initiatives can boost employee engagement, working with social enterprises might be at the top of your list. Here are five types of CSR programs and how your employees can benefit.
1. Paid volunteer time for employees
CSR initiatives that allow employees to take paid volunteer time are a great way to help your company’s employees give back to their communities. This is especially true if you are a small or medium-sized business, where it can be challenging for managers to find ways for employees to engage in community service.
By offering paid volunteer time, employees can use their skills and talents to help the community. This is an effective way to improve the lives of others while increasing employee morale and productivity. It also makes your business look good in the eyes of customers and other stakeholders.
An example is Airbnb’s employee volunteering program. The business allows paid volunteering time of 4 hours per month, and employees can use the time to spend time in neighbourhoods where Airbnb hosts reside. Employees can, for instance, work with social enterprises and non-profit organisations to assist community residents with welfare programs. You will notice that this echoes the company’s mission statement, which is to “belong anywhere”, and its core values, for instance, to ‘champion the mission’ and ‘be a host’.
Allowing employees to give back to the communities where their stakeholders reside reminds employees of these ideas. That’s a novel way of keeping employees engaged instead of merely putting up posters everywhere in the office.
2. Work with Food and Beverage businesses to donate meals to the needy
Food security is a persistent challenge in Asia. The numbers from the World Health Organisation show that the continent has the highest rate of hungry people and malnourished children. Yet, at the same time, urban countries such as Singapore continue to have high food wastage statistics. In fact, food wastage accounts for 12% of Singapore’s total waste. And even in Singapore, many people who can’t afford meals go hungry. There is a gap between throwing away good food, and ensuring the needy get access to regular meals.
It’s no wonder that many non-profit organisations and social enterprises, such as Food from the Heart and The Food Bank, are working hard to spread the message of donating to the needy and not wasting food products unnecessarily.
The Food Bank, for instance, involves donors that pay for the meals. It works with food and beverage partners to provide cooked meals at special rates. Volunteers then distribute them to households. If this aligns with your business mission to put people first, your business can support it.
By partnering with such social enterprises, you also provide employees with a platform to interact. When employees volunteer together, whether it is to distribute food or cook meals, they are not limited to the colleagues that they usually see. Having the chance to make new friendships in the company increases employee engagement. Meanwhile, sharing a positive experience together may forge bonds, and a stronger sense of belonging to your business.
3. Go green, reduce environmental impact
“Sustainability” has been a buzzword for a minute now, but before you scoff, do realise that this is a possible CSR opportunity! For example, you can commit to reducing your carbon footprint or using less paper. You can also encourage employees to bring their own cups, and increase recycling bins in the office.
But these ideas do not have to come from management. Instead, consider allowing your employees to give feedback and pilot initiatives. It will enable you to see your employees perform outside their job scope.
4. Training and education initiatives
Businesses can also consider setting time aside for education and training purposes. For example, just look at how Capitaland’s employees dedicate their time to setting up schools in various developing places worldwide.
Another option is to consider partnerships with businesses like Mori Official. Mori is a social enterprise that sells handmade versatile pouches and bags. It provides mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds with work-from-home opportunities. Another well-known social enterprise is Arts Faculty, which sells hand-painted bags by differently-abled children. Since these are social enterprises, they often rely on volunteers who dedicate their time to help with business operations. Supporting them with funding and allowing employees to volunteer for these enterprises helps them succeed and provide their beneficiaries with a livelihood!
5. Sponsor and mentor start-ups
Finally, consider contributing to the start-up scene for social enterprises to help them build from scratch. That’s what the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise, raiSE hopes established businesses will do. These businesses might not have the resources to hire employees or implement efficient software solutions.
By stepping forward to work with start-ups focused on social initiatives, you can make a difference in the community. Start-ups will benefit from the knowledge and the software or hardware required for a successful setup. For the business, it also provides a CSR platform for employees to volunteer their time and skills.
We hope that this article has inspired you and your business to start taking positive action today!
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