Louise’s lowdown: Supporting corporate social responsibility through benefits

Louise Fordham

US marketing agency Havas Chicago has a novel approach to engaging staff with charitable causes that adds a little summer fun into the mix. If employees could reach a set fundraising target then they received the day off after the organisation’s summer party on 27 July.

Havas Chicago set up an online campaign to raise $3,000 (£2,313) for a charity that works to empower young people in Chicago through the arts, education, and civic engagement. As of 27 July, $3,453 had been raised, so employees can look forward to a day off on 28 July, presumably recovering from the day before.

But it is not just through charity fundraising initiatives that organisations can foster employee buy-in and promote their corporate social responsibility (CSR) values.

In September 2017, for example, the University of Winchester will roll out a four-month pilot programme designed to engage staff with sustainability, as well as their own health and wellbeing.

The Jump scheme, provided by Green Rewards, incentivises employees to take part in sustainability and wellbeing activities by allowing them to track their progress online and rewarding them for their efforts. Rewards include vouchers, gym passes, park-and-ride tickets, and charitable donations. Energy use, waste and recycling, volunteering, and sustainable transport are among the areas the University of Winchester aims to target through the scheme.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) piloted the Jump programme in 2016 among 1,200 employees, before extending it across its 6,000-strong workforce in the UK and Ireland. The wider rollout took place on 25 March 2017 to coincide with Earth Hour. Almost all (95%) staff who participated in the pilot programme felt that the scheme contributed towards employee engagement, team building, and environmental sustainability.

Elsewhere, Lloyds Banking Group encourages employees to volunteer in the community for at least eight hours a year. As part of its Helping Britain Prosper Plan, the bank has committed to providing 2.3 million paid employee volunteering hours to support community projects by 2020. Recent initiatives include a volunteering day at Shenfield High School in Essex, where staff conducted practice interviews for year 10 pupils, and volunteering at Mental Health UK Service Centres across the UK during Mental Health Awareness Week in May 2017.

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Engaging staff with CSR initiatives can also have a wider impact on recruitment and retention. According to the 2016 Cone Communications employee engagement study, published by Cone Communications in June 2016, more than half (58%) of US employee respondents consider an organisation’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work, and 51% will not work for an employer that does not have strong commitments in these areas. Meanwhile, 55% would opt to work for a socially responsible organisation even if it offers lower pay.

How is your organisation involving employees in its CSR efforts? How could these be more closely aligned to reward strategies going forward? Tell us at @EmployeeBenefit.