Using CSR Communication to Improve Employee Engagement
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
An interesting, almost unexpected, piece of the puzzle that improves employee engagement and attracts new talent is a solid corporate social responsibility program; however, many companies fail to attract new recruits because they haven’t shared the way their companies have contributed to their communities. This lack of communication is more common with small and medium-sized companies.
Contrary to what our gut instinct tells us, the communication of a CSR program isn’t a way to scream, “Look at us! Look what we do!” Companies shouldn’t be embarrassed to share the ways they are forming and bettering their communities. Sharing the CSR program of your company is fundamental information about your company’s values that tells a lot about the products and services your company is bringing to the market. This, in turn, retains talented employees as well as attracts new hires whose values align with those of the company.
In fact, solid information tells us that though bigger companies are better at communicating their CSR programs, small and medium-sized companies have a greater, direct community impact because of the way they are integrated in their communities. Also, by communicating the work your company does in terms of responsible entrepreneurship, you’ll cause a positive chain reaction including customer loyalty, employee motivation, better brand recognition and reputation and positive relationships developed with community and business leaders. And the reality is there’s a huge gap between how people perceive organizations and the reality of those organizations. The reality, all too often, is kept in the hands of a board of directors or select CEOs when it should be, ideally, common knowledge.
So, it’s time to toot your horns!
But before you start blaring, keep in mind these communication tips to be more effective and have a greater impact:
- What’s your CSR strategy and how do your press releases and other communications reflect that? If you can’t answer this question, then you need to evaluate your CSR program. All CSR news should tie to an overall strategy that reflect the core values of a company. Answer these questions: What are your company’s core values? How do you communicate this through your CSR strategy and media plan?
- Under sharing: You’re waiting for the project to be completed. Why? Tell your story and get the news out about what you’re working on. It may be flawed, but it’s a way to be transparent and honest. The story itself, the road of a CSR will not always be smooth. That’s okay, too.
- Community impact: Some companies offer great in-company programs for their employees.This is great, but how does this translate to the social impact the company has on the community? Discuss investments in local businesses. Talk about work with schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, a baseball team and more. How do these community investments make a difference within the company?
- Be open and honest: Secrecy causes people to be suspicious and puts companies on the defense. Some companies are great about having a CSR section in their Websites and other communication channels. (See #2).
- Be consistent:Your communication plan should be consistent across the board (on TV, in the newspapers, Internet and radio).
- Inside-out Communication: Your employees should be on the front line of knowing how they are affecting change in the community. They can be the first voice to share. If they’re proud of the work they’re doing to make the world better, they’ll talk about it. And they become your best advocates along with customers and critics.
- Reporting does not equal communicating: Just because it’s out there, doesn’ t mean the message has been received. This is one of the hugest fallacies and money pits in bad marketing and PR. You have to measure the impact the CSR program has as well as the communication of the CSR program, not assuming that everyone is receiving the same message. This Forbes Article about Communicating CSR: Four Lessons from Chevron and IBM by Paul Klein is particularly insightful about what communication – bad and good – can do.
It all boils down to coming up with a transparent, coherent communication strategy that matches your company’s values and CSR program. Take the time to answer some core questions about your CSR and how you want to communicate your responsible entrepreneurship to your community.
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