The organizational responsibility-individual engagement equation.
By Melissa Herrett
As Millennials continue to enter the workforce at an increasing rate, organizations must adapt their engagement policies to incorporate the engagement drivers for this generation. Millennials, more than other generations, have a strong desire to work somewhere that both makes a difference in the world and is dedicated to the community outside of the business. According to a study conducted by Cone Millennial Cause Group and published in Forbes, 80 percent of 13 to 25 year olds interviewed want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. These individuals are the working population of the future; thus, corporate responsibility is quickly evolving from a buzzword to a necessity for attracting, engaging, and retaining this younger population.
Avatar HR Solutions’ research found that 70 percent of employees believe their organization is responsible in the community, indicating that many leadership teams are already making efforts to increase their CR initiatives and dedication to the world outside their business. Recycling bins, signs encouraging employees to save water and electricity, and various other environmentally friendly initiatives are popping up in workplaces. Business websites have also begun to feature CR policies and contributions, increasing the visibility of these practices. Three great examples of dedicated commitments to CR can be found at Intel, EMC2, and Campbell Soup Company.
Case Study: Intel
Founded in 1968, Intel Corporation is an industry-leading technology company. CR is extremely important to Intel’s global workforce of 82,500 employees and is directly integrated into the goals of the business. Intel recognizes the impact it could have on a global level by including a worldwide focus in its CR strategy.
Intel’s CR projects are chosen based on a combination of factors. Initiatives that have a direct impact on Intel’s business outcomes, such as the effect its products have on the environment, are a natural fit for CR strategies. Leadership is constantly working to meet goals that would reduce its carbon footprint, including creating environmentally friendly products and office spaces, as well as encouraging recycling and water conservation.
In addition to protecting the environment, Intel sponsors programs to help people in need and educate future generations. Ideas for these outreach programs often stem from what the company knows best—its products. Intel supports science and engineering fairs across the globe. Additionally, leadership created the Intel Teach Program, which provides techniques to help teachers incorporate technology into their lessons.
To ensure that Intel’s employees are dedicated to CR, a portion of each employee’s compensation is linked to the achievement of CR initiatives. Other programs reward employees for their contributions to CR. The awards not only encourage employees to get involved in and promote CR programs, but also increase cooperation among team members, further boosting employee engagement.
Case Study: EMC2
EMC2, a global technology company, believes CR should be incorporated directly into an organization’s goals as well. EMC2 has 48,500 employees worldwide and operates in more than 80 countries. Founded in 1979, the company has 30-plus years of operations that have persuaded its leaders they must build CR into their internal structure. Initiatives at EMC2 are organized around a variant of the “triple bottom line,” in this case the three Ps being people, planet, and prosperity.
EMC2 has established several practices that help decrease its direct impact on the environment, including reducing the energy used by its products and maintaining environmentally sustainable working conditions. The organization founded a “green team” that seeks to neutralize the environmental impact of EMC2’s products. EMC2 also sponsors various programs internationally to encourage children, especially underprivileged youth, to choose courses with a focus in math or science.
Other programs are chosen based on communication between leadership and employees. Again, this leverages CR for HR. Allowing employees to have a direct say in various CR initiatives empowers them and increases the connection they have with the leadership team and the company itself. In addition, by listening to employees’ CR ideas, the leadership team shows that they take employee thoughts and concerns seriously.
Like Intel, EMC2 recognizes how important positive reinforcement is to the effective implementation of CR initiatives. To recognize employee efforts in advancing CR objectives, leadership annually commemorates Sustainability Innovation Awards.
Recognition through these awards not only gives employees a sense of accomplishment, but also engages them and keeps them excited about CR projects.
Case Study: Campbell Soup Company
Since 1869, Campbell has made a name for itself in the food industry, now reaching customers in 120 countries. With more than 18,000 employees and $8 billion in sales of soup, juice, and snack choices, Campbell has established itself as a leader in its industry. In order to continue to uphold its reputation and attract and retain strong talent, the company has implemented various CR initiatives.
According to its website, in 2011, Campbell employees in the United States and Canada volunteered more than 23,000 hours working to improve the community. Employees are encouraged to volunteer throughout the workweek, and leadership implements team volunteer days to engage employees in CR initiatives. Additionally, the organization commits various resources to education, and also established “Make a Difference Week,” a week dedicated to volunteer service.
Campbell’s CR programs often directly align with its industry, a hallmark of many enduringly successful CR initiatives. Not only do employees and leadership contribute time and resources to help feed the hungry, they also work to reduce childhood obesity by providing healthy food options, safe places to play, and nutrition education programs. Campbell even appointed a director of childhood hunger and obesity to help implement these initiatives. Aligning CR programs with the products sold, as Campbell does, helps establish a message of connectivity across the organization.
As with Intel and EMC2, Campbell recognizes work that employees have done within the CR realm by tracking, on its website, the amount of time employees spend volunteering. Additionally, Campbell encourages employees to create their own volunteer goals and maintains a scorecard of everyone’s achievements. This recognition keeps employees engaged not only in the CR initiatives, but also in the company, as they feel they have done something important to make a difference.
Future Case Study: Yours
Several cost-effective and quick options can assist companies in helping employees understand how the organization is making a difference in the community.
• Give employees a few days off per year to volunteer for a charity of their choice. This will show employees you care about their interests, and will also help establish more work/life balance among employees, further contributing to their engagement. Additionally, you can encourage an all-staff volunteer day where employees work as a team, thus contributing to cohesion among your staff.
• Offer to match contributions. If an employee is raising money for a cause he or she is interested in, leadership can offer to match the funds raised. This shows not only a commitment to the greater good, but also indicates that you take an interest in employees’ passions.
• Publicize your CR efforts. If employees are unaware of the efforts
that their organization is making in the community, very few CR programs will be effective in improving employee engagement. By posting pictures and information on the intranet or social media, and detailing how employees can get involved, team members will be more aware of all CR efforts.
• Encourage employee insight. Hold contests to persuade employees
to share their ideas or desires about how to make a bigger impact. Reward well-planned ideas by offering to back the initiative.
• Highlight employees’ contributions. It is important to detail exactly
each employee’s role in the bigger picture and the impact that the organization is making on the environment. Doing so will keep employees engaged and dedicated.
As millennials become the majority in the workplace, CR becomes increasingly vital to attracting and retaining the best talent. Everyone wants to feel good about the organization for which they work, and thus it is important for leadership to continue to dedicate ideas, time, and resources to the greater community. CR is no longer a nice-to-have; rather, it must be a central component in any employee engagement program, allowing you to maintain your competitive advantage in the corporate world.
Melissa Herrett is associate marketing project manager at Avatar HR Solutions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.