Thursday, August 12, 2010

Employee engagement down. CSR up.


Thanks to a tweet from @jenniwheller, I read this interesting article entitled: While The Economy Recovers, Employee Engagement Drops. In summary, the article shows the largest decline in employee engagement for 15 years, based on research by Hewitt Associates. The article says this "highlights the growing tension between employers--many of which are struggling to stabilize their financial situation--and employees, who are showing fatigue in response to a lengthy period of stress, uncertainty and confusion brought about by the recession and their company's actions." Given that there is a clear link between employee engagement and shareholder return, these results must be of (1) interest and (2) concern for members of the Human Resources profession.


However, the point I really wanted to make here was about the role of CSR-HR leadership in creating a reversal of this engagement slump. Hewitt offers six factors that differentiate Companies and support improving employee engagement : long term focus, leadership buy-in, measurable targets, understanding employee groups, utilize more analytics and involve all (internal) stakeholders.


Whilst all these are commendable, frankly, I do not believe these will create greater engagement. I believe a CSR mindset and CSR-HR driven activities will create greater engagement. With the exception of the last point about involving employees as stakeholders, which is a core element of CSR, I believe a socially responsible organisational culture, which is based on clear values and ethics, diversity and inclusion, open communications, attention to employee wellbeing, and opportunities for employees develop their potential and to serve communities are core ingredients to enhancing engagement. See also my review of Dave Ulrich's book, the Why of Work.

It's time for HR to wake up to CSR.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my business website  (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Elaine, I think the challenge re: engagement is that HR cannot lead this engagement, they cannot initiate it. Engagement has to be leadership driven with a willingness to invite participation from all stakeholders.

The best practice in engagement is when employees and HR participate with all stakeholders.

The companies who are most successful with CSR today do not rely on a hierarchy to lead; an educational system is embedded for all stakeholders to learn from each other and translate the various perspectives into the actual operation through activity that has people learn how their work or what they do effects others.

This is what I teach and lead. US companies are the most resistant to creating and investing in these forums. To me it is a short term investment with lots of long term gain. It has to be led as an activity that is formed and shaped thoughtfully and opens the opportunity for everyone to contribute to thought leadership and then apply that thought leadership into practice.

It is about giving a company a soul and letting the views of many people imprint a DNA code of thought that leads change and sustains companies and hopefully sustains employment for employees who perform well.

Any group of economic decision makers that invest in this format are investing in the success of its people, brand and 3BL success.

I know this works and I am passionate about advising and working with companies to bring this practice about.

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