Emma Davidson: Corporate social responsibility initiatives can have wider organisational impacts


In the past, corporate social responsibility (CSR) was considered a back-office activity which did not impact employees’ on a day-to-day basis. However research from the Harvard Business Review, published in 2016, indicates that CSR is becoming increasingly important for building and maintaining a loyal and engaged workforce.

So how can employers ensure practices stay up-to-date and fresh enough to gauge maximum take-up and interest?

Firstly, creating a calendar of CSR-related events for employees to participate in throughout the year eliminates it as being seen as an ad-hoc activity, and encourages maximum staff participation. Employers could also incorporate it into everyday activities, such as bikes-for-work and lift share schemes. Smaller charitable initiatives, such as bake sales or sponsored lunchtime sporting events, can also have a big impact on workplace morale and complement more serious, long-term corporate objectives.

Communication is essential to inform employees of the social impact of their volunteering or charity work. For example, earlier this year Express Vending participated in the refurbishment of a Salvation Army drop-in centre and donated a selection of long-life items visitors could take away to eat later. Internal feedback and information shared through social media channels relayed the impact of this work, resulting in a larger group of volunteers for the next project.

Another benefit of such activities is that individuals can work alongside people outside of their normal teams. Activities should take place with teams of both senior and junior staff to promote a greater sense of camaraderie, as they work towards a common goal.

Research from 2degrees Network, published in 2014, shows that those who frequently participate in their organisation’s volunteer activities are more likely to feel loyal to their employer, so the importance of CSR in attracting new talent shouldn’t be forgotten.

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To achieve success, it is imperative that businesses communicate regularly about these activities. This means activity will naturally be promoted through employee conversations and CSR objectives will become a more obvious workplace priority across the whole business.

Emma Davidson is area retail manager for London at premium vending machine installation organisation Express Vending