Friday, March 2, 2012

Employee engagement in CSR- it's gone viral!

Wherever you look these days and whatever you read, getting employees on board with sustainability efforts is one of the key areas that everyone seems to be (yawn! at long last) acknowledging is the key to making it all come right. No list of top sustainability trends for 2012 was complete without employee engagement taking a star role. In a world of work where only 31% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs, we can only hope that we are in the range of rock-bottom and that things will get better. Sustainability is not only an outcome of employee engagement, it is a driver. HR Managers around the world, this is your time to wake up to CSR!

James Epstein Reeves' recent post on - Six Reasons Companies Should Embrace CSR - features employee engagement (albeit in sixth place - ahem - but who's counting), saying: "..... if your own employees don’t know what’s going on within your organization, you’re missing an opportunity. Companies like Sara Lee created a cross-functional, global Sustainability Working Team to help create a strategy for sustainability. At a more grass roots level, the Solo Cup Company created the Sustainability Action Network to activate employees in community service focused on the company’s CSR priorities."

Addison's Six Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012 includes employee engagement in sustainability, saying that "an increasing number of companies are realizing that introducing innovative employee volunteer programs as part of an integrated environmental, social and governance (ESG) platform can enhance their “employment brand.”

Tim Mohin of AMD included employee engagement in his top ten CSR trends of 2012, explaining "The connection between CSR and engaged employees continues to grow. A Hewitt & Associates study looked at 230 workplaces with more than 100,000 employees and found that the more a company actively pursues worthy environmental and social efforts, the more engaged its employees are. The Society for Human Resources Management compared companies that have strong sustainability programs with companies that have poor ones and found that in the former morale was 55% better, business process were 43% more efficient, public image was 43% stronger, and employee loyalty was 38% better."

Susan McPherson, the CSR Dynamo at Fenton, also ranked employee engagement highly in her list of 12 predictions for CSR in 2012. And there are more. How can all these expert professionals be wrong? Of course they can't.

And here is some proof.

Trend 3 in a new report hot-off-the-press-just-published by Ernst and Young in cooperation with Greenbiz Group, creatively entitled "Six Growing trends in Corporate Sustainability" is guess what, employee engagement. Employees are seen as a key audience for Sustainability Reports. The story E&Y tells about this trend goes like this:  "While the tools and techniques for employee engagement vary widely, the benefits are consistently described by these companies. Most importantly, they enhance employee attraction and retention, improve operational efficiencies, strengthen customer relations, increase innovation and strengthen community ties. Moreover, companies that distribute their sustainability reports broadly among employees find that they often share this information with their families, friends and neighbors, as well as with customers and suppliers. Employees can become a powerful voice in support of company sustainability messages."

Powerful stuff, right? Employee engagement in CSR has gone viral!

Who is going to tell HR?

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices.  Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

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