Corporate Social Responsibility Programs Make the Spirit of the Season Last All Year

Did you know that generosity leads to happiness and even an improved physical well-being? Not only that, but being generous begets more generosity—meaning an act of kindness can inspire someone else to “pay it forward.”

Between work, family and personal obligations, it’s easy for anyone to forget to donate time or money to their favorite causes. But what if we told you many corporations not only encourage charitable giving but will even match their employees’ donations? And some go so far as to provide paid time off for volunteering? And then what if we told you that it can positively impact their bottom line?

Studies have found that employees love when their companies champion causes, through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, for instance, because it shows they care about their impact on society at large and not just revenue. The mission to do good in the surrounding community also fosters stronger bonds among staff, promoting a pleasant and productive internal culture.

Since acts of kindnesses have a positive effect on one’s well-being, encouraging giving back can play a huge role in retaining and recruiting talent. This is particularly true as an increasing number of workers, especially millennials, appreciate a company that not only has values but also holds their business and employees accountable to them. A 2016 survey of 1,020 employees found:

  • 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.
  • 76% of these younger employees consider a company’s social/environmental commitments when choosing where they want to work.
  • 51% of all employees will not take a job from a company lacking in strong social responsibility practices.

The holidays are a time to reflect and give back. So, with that spirit in mind, here are just some of the ways companies can seamlessly incorporate CSR and giving into the workplace.

Volunteering — Volunteer Time Off (VTO), or paid time off for volunteering in the community, provides employees an opportunity to give back without needing to sacrifice pay or their personal time. Document-management service ImageOne used VTO as part of its rejuvenation plan after a year of stale sales. ImageOne partially attributes the following year’s growth to the relationship it developed with its community (its consumers) through volunteering.

Year-round employee giving — One way to make it easy for employees to donate is through payroll deduction. Employees who give via payroll deductions are pledging a fixed percentage or dollar amount of their paycheck to their charities of choice, either through a campaign, like an awareness month, or year-round.

Corporate matching — Corporate matching motivates employees to donate since they know whatever they give, their employer will match dollar for dollar, and some companies will even triple the original donated amount. An analysis by the CECP (Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy) and The Conference Board of the world’s largest companies found that in 2017, 60% had a “Dollars for Doers” program in which they make a small grant to an organization to which an employee has volunteered a significant number of hours.

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Pro bono work — Lawyers aren’t the only ones who can do good through pro bono work. There are plenty of ways a company’s staff in many industries can be useful. Contributing skills in areas such as software development, marketing, social media and graphic design can set up the company you’re helping to reach the next level. And employees will love using their particular powers for good (and the change of pace from their day-to-day), which also leads to greater visibility for the company among local businesses and charities.

A version of this article was originally published on wforce.org.

Dr. Arthur Langer is director of the Center for Technology Management at Columbia University and chairman and founder of Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a nonprofit with a mission of developing the skills of untapped talent from underserved and veteran communities through partnerships with organizations dedicated to diversifying their workforce. Since its inception in 2005, WOS has served 3,800+ individuals through partnerships with more than 65 corporations in 60+ locations worldwide. For more information, please visit www.wforce.org.

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