Benefits & CSR (how to use benefits to boost CSR)

Whatever your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, your employee benefits package should support it. Even if you don’t have a specific CSR strategy in place, the benefits you offer can work really well in helping companies execute their economic, environmental and social responsibilities.

Start with you and your industry
The type of business you are could dictate what your CSR will focus on. For example, some coffee companies send their employees out to experience where the coffee is sourced, with employees helping out on the farms. Many coffee companies are committed to improving the working conditions of the farmers who source their coffee beans, and this is an integral part of their CSR strategy.

It’s important to consider, what is your main CSR objective? For example, for companies like Andrex, the environment and the reduction of deforestation is often the focus. Has your company or industry come under criticism recently for anything in particular? And could you combat that with employee benefits

Hot CSR Topics
When choosing your focus, also consider what other companies or organisations are coming under fire for. For example, the fashion industry has recently come under a lot of criticism for the pollution it causes. It’s cited as the second largest polluting industry behind fossil fuel energy production. If your company is part of the fashion industry or is linked in some way, consider how you can help reduce pollution through the benefits you offer.

It could be that when you promote your bike to work scheme you place particular emphasis on how much this could help reduce pollution. You could even calculate how much pollution is caused by your employees when they commute to and from work and emphasise how this would be reduced if employees bought into the bike to work scheme. If you offer workwear, find a provider that has made an effort to reduce pollution and emphasise why you’ve chosen them.

Also take into account recent political and government changes when choosing your CSR focus. If you offer a health cash plan, you could emphasise that this could help people combat rising healthcare costs.

What benefits can you use to boost CSR?
As mentioned, this can depend on your CSR focus and your industry. However, here are some that could apply to virtually any company.

Financial Wellbeing
Offering ways for employees to get more control over their finances is always good ethical practice for companies. Focus your message on how you can help people out of debt, help young people buy their first home or generally give employees good financial advice. These things can be done through offering financial education or borrowing options with low interest rates. Again, this can depend on your company’s industry.

Gambling companies often come under fire for the amount of people that find themselves in debt through gambling. The Gamble Aware campaign is there to help, however some gambling companies go above and beyond the Gamble Aware campaign’s requirements and put it at the forefront of their own CSR campaigns. This sometimes involves focusing on the Gamble Aware message at the beginning of TV adverts rather than just leaving it as a small message at the end. For companies in this industry, offering financial wellbeing benefits could be particularly beneficial in pushing this type of message.

Health & Wellbeing
Offering ways for employees to improve their health and fitness can help combat a number of ethical issues. Obesity is a topic that is often making the headlines. Recently, Tesco started using it’s Clubcard data to find out what choices people are making with regards to healthy food by using its data to put together a “Health Score” for every basket sold. They hope to use the data to help people make more healthy decisions, particularly with families to help combat childhood obesity. For big companies like Tesco, tackling obesity is an important part of their CSR campaign. Offering bike to work schemes, gym memberships and health assessments can help companies greatly in helping push the message about reducing obesity.

Mental health is a topic that is discussed more and more every year. The typical employee spends a huge part of their time at work and so companies generally have a responsibility to make sure they get the help they need. In some industries, there is a particular focus on how the job itself can affect the employees’ mental health. Whether mental health is a part of this type of company’s CSR campaign or not, at the very least these companies should offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to give employees confidential advice.

Remember, when using employee benefits to boost your CSR campaigns you’ll need to:

  • Identify your main CSR message and objectives
  • Consider your industry
  • Consider your employees and what they respond to
  • Identify the appropriate employee benefits
  • Promote these benefits alongside your CSR message.

It’s also worth mentioning that there are a number of different benefits you can offer that will suit your CSR objectives, as well as different initiatives that don’t necessarily fall under employee benefits. It’s up to you what benefits and initiatives you use and how you use them. As mentioned, you could use your bike to work scheme to either promote the message about health and fitness, or about reducing pollution, depending on your CSR focus.