Tuesday, May 10, 2011

7 Ways to get started with CSR for HR

It's always nice to be published in a language other than my own, even if I can't understand it :). Today, my article called 7 Ways To Get Started With CSR for HR was published in a newsletter called HRM Scope, which is published in Dutch for the Netherlands and Dutch-speaking Human Resources community.

It starts like this:

HR-beleid in 7 stappen duurzaam
Duurzaamheid is al lang geen hype meer en groeit wereldwijd gestaag uit tot standaardnorm, ook voor HR, zegt HR-auteur Elaine Cohen. 'Steeds meer organisaties kiezen ervoor de verantwoordelijkheid te nemen voor de gevolgen van hun handelen voor de samenleving, de planeet en volgende generaties. In die keuze voor duurzaamheid kan het HR-beleid een grote rol spelen,' zegt Elaine Cohen, auteur van het boek 'CSR for HR, A Necessary Partnership for Advancing Responsible Business Practices'. Read the full version here.

For all those of you for whom English is preferable, or even essential, here is the original article I submitted, as, despite being a polyglot, Dutch is not part of my repertoire.

7 Ways To Get Started With CSR for HR

All over the world, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement has been mainstreaming as a business approach which goes beyond the letter of the law and accepts responsibility for impacts on stakeholders. Every business impacts on people, society and the environment through the way it employs people, serves customers, erects buildings, inhabits offices, uses transportation, manufactures products, develops new product ranges, launches marketing campaigns and more. In determining business strategy to generate growth and profit, CSR thinking demands consideration of society and environment alongside financial considerations. It has been proven that businesses who do this well deliver improved financial performance over time and contribute not only to the sustainability of the planet, but also to their own sustainability as businesses. CSR is changing the way companies develop strategy, take decisions, execute processes, engage with employees, consumers, external pressure groups and communities and respond to the diverse expectations of all these groups in this fast-moving, transparent age of business. It is demanding a different sort of contribution from the HR function.

The key partnership role of HR in this context is embedding a culture of CSR because the business performance is only as good as the decisions its people make and the way they perform. As the guardian of corporate culture, HR's role in embedding a CSR mindset in any business is critical.

I propose that the Human Resources function has a responsibility to be proactive in leading the establishment of a CSR-enabled culture within any business. This includes adapting recruitment and retention processes, training and development programmes, remuneration and reward programmes, new tools for employee engagement based on platforms of community involvement and more. HR Managers should lead processes to engage employees with sustainability strategy at each stage of their life-cycle and create employee ambassadors for responsible business. HR Managers should develop a CSR-mindset, whether or not there is a corporate CSR strategy which directs them to do so and whether or not their next career move depends on it. Why? Because CSR for HR is an imperative. It's a route to better business, more engaged employees, improved impacts on society and environment and ultimately a stronger, more influential and more effective HR Function.

The following are 7 examples of how HR can adapt its approach:

Create a culture built on a social mission: All companies have a social mission, even though they might not have articulated it. Walmart has "Save Money, Live Better" to indicate a business which improves people's quality of life; Nokia is "Connecting People" highlighting that access to mobile and digital technology is an important driver of social and economic development; Campbell's Soup has "Nourishing People's Lives", which indicates a much broader social contribution than making a profit on selling cans of soup. Employees today are looking for meaning in their work; they are less motivated by pay-checks alone. The HR Manager should ensure that each and every employee understands and identifies with the company's social mission, and leverage this to attract and engage employees in both an emotional and professional context. Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, said recently that the Pepsico's "Performance with Purpose" agenda is the single biggest recruiting tool they have at Pepsico.

Take a Stakeholder perspective: HR Managers all too often are inward looking and tend to work in the space between management on the one hand and employees on the other. However, by considering and engaging with all stakeholders, which include employees' families, local communities, environmental groups etc., HR can understand the broader implications of HR decisions on these stakeholders and adopt policies and processes which ensure maximum positive impact. This is good for the business as well as good for stakeholders.

Advance Diversity: At Intel, for example, diversity is a way of life. HR processes can be leveraged to create an inclusive culture where the entire workforce can contribute to greater innovation, improved customer relationships, reduced workplace conflict and enjoy higher motivation, productivity and workplace loyalty. This means designing HR processes which actively seek out candidates from diverse backgrounds, proactively training managers to hire with an inclusive mindset, purposefully creating a workplace which respects the needs of different employees, especially minority groups, and sensitively promoting diversity in internal communications.

Go Green: Reducing environmental impacts is one of the most serious business challenges of the day. Businesses can gain advantage only when the entire workforce is engaged. HR support for employee-driven Green Teams to enhance employee contribution to improved environmental impacts including lower electricity consumption, reduced use of paper for printing, recycling, waste reduction and more delivers benefits of reduced operating costs, improved environmental protection, and employees who derive satisfaction from becoming ambassadors for a more sustainable planet.

Care for employee well-being: Investment in employee well-being delivers big returns. In a program  implemented in Unilever, employee well-being programmes for managing stress, nutrition and exercise delivered a return of $6.59 on every $1.64 invested. HR policies which help employees to manage their own well-being deliver an ROI in reduced absenteeism, reduced health care costs, higher productivity and longer job tenure. If HR does not drive this, no one else in the business will.

Protect Human Rights: There are over 200 million children illegally employed in businesses around the world, over 12 million people in forced labour and millions of employees who do not enjoy the basic right to freedom of association. HR managers need to help identify the human rights risks in their operations and supply chains and ensure robust HR policies to uphold human rights. Creating a culture in which these issues can be openly addressed requires a new skill on the part of HR Managers. Doing it well protects and advances the business, employees, and communities.

Skills-based volunteering: Employee volunteering programs help build motivation, team-work, sense of belonging and help retain employees while making communities stronger. What most HR Managers do not realize is that volunteering is also a platform to provide unique skill-building opportunities which can be valuable in the workplace. GlaxoSmithKline's CEO Andrew Witty says that their "Pulse" volunteering program causes employees to "come back with a different world-view of a corporation and help change the company from the inside-out." Given that CSR is also about creating change, community volunteering programs can be a superb tool for HR Managers.

These 7 ways to get started with CSR from an HR perspective will help the HR Manager contribute to long-term sustainable growth and a sustainable planet. It is time for HR to rise to the challenge of preparing themselves and their organizations for a sustainable future.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices.Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Employees should be more than engaged. They should be engaging.

For any of you who are still not convinced that HR Managers can help increase profits, just take a look at this data from the US Postal Service, which I happened to pick up as I was doing a little research for an executive lecture class gave on CSR for HR. I noticed this in an article on 2Sustain.

In 2010, the US Postal Service gained a $27.1 million cost saving benefit as a result of work done by Green Employees (i.e. employees who get involved in the organization's "Lean Green Team" activity). This is made up of the following:

$5 million in reduced resources consumption - energy, electricity etc
$13 million in revenue generation from sale of recycled materials
$9.1 million in landfill fee avoidance

That's a whopping sum of money saved in one year. A real HR contribution to the bottom line.

Emil Dzuray, acting Chief Sustainability Officer of the US Postal Service, said. “Our employee green teams are an important part of building a conservation culture and reducing our carbon footprint.”

This is an example of what I mean when I talk about moving from engaged employees to engaging employees i.e. employees who are engaging. Every single employee has tens of opportunities every single day to interact with internal and external stakeholders. Every single one of these interactions is an opportunity to champion the CSR cause through behavior and words and both. Just think, in a business of 5,000 employees, each of whom has at least 50 interactions a day either face-to-face or online, that's a minimum of 250,000 interaction possibilities EACH DAY.

The role of the CSHR Manager is to create a culture, supported by processes and frameworks, in which the maximum percentage of this total number of daily interactions (I call these touchpoints. Love jargon) with all stakeholders can become sustainability interactions. Each touchpoint is an opportunity to reinforce CSR messages, values, principles. The more employees have CSR as top-of-mind, the greater the number of touchpoints the organization will be able to rely upon to advance its sustainability agenda.

So what we need is engaging employees who leverage sustainability touchpoints.
Great phrase, no?
And who needs to create the conditions for this to happen in organizations?
Yes, you got it. The HR Managers.
But first, they have to wake up.
It is time for HR to wake up to CSR!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices.  Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen  on Twitter or via my website www.b-yond.biz/en
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