New Research – 5 Ways to Increase Employee Participation in CSR Programs


As a result of increasing awareness, public expectations, and a desire to create a positive social impact, more companies are allocating resources to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts – and employee adoption of these activities is crucial to their success. Based on recent research commissioned by the Satell Institute, here are 5 methods for companies to increase employee participation in CSR:

Create a Favorable Culture of CSR

One of the reasons the Satell Institute has successfully connected so many nonprofits and for-profits is due to the mutual commitment of each organization towards contributing to the greater good. When CSR is an explicit part of a company culture and norms, employees are triggered to participate in the effort. By establishing an environment of community consciousness and philanthropy, CEOs are letting their team know that this behavior is recognized and rewarded.

Develop an Internal Communication Plan to Promote CSR

By providing more and better information about CSR opportunities, your company is addressing issues that can influence positive attitudes. Storytelling, informal communication, coaching, and other communication strategies have proven effective towards sparking increased interest in CSR activities. Communication about CSR on the specific programs of the company is likely to improve the attitudes of employees and drive greater participation.

Cultivate Supportive Leadership Styles

CEOs understand that leaders often inspire by example. When a for-profit company partners with a nonprofit organization in a meaningful way for a multi-year period (as is required by Satell Institute members), they are signaling to employees that CSR is an important, collective mission. At the CEO level, their enthusiasm and involvement can affect the engagement of employees in the company, including their attitudes toward CSR in general. 

Develop a Multi-Year CSR Commitment to Strengthen Bonds & Increase Impact

Maximizing employee participation in CSR requires moving away from one-time donation model and committing to a cause/charity for a longer period of time. By agreeing to remain an ongoing presence for a number of years, the monetary impact will be more substantial and employees will be able to develop a deeper association to the cause. Some companies like to vary the methods for employees to get involved within the nonprofit they are partnering with, while others allow employees to choose the cause they find most compelling.

Stimulate Group and Peer Adoption of CSR Efforts

Strong teams are characterized by high levels of cohesiveness, and employee behavior is strongly influenced by peer interactions. Research indicates that individuals are more likely to engage in behaviors that are consistent with the norms of the groups to which they belong, so fellow employees can be powerful advocates for a company’s CSR efforts. A bottom-up rather than top-down approach to generating interest in CSR activities often proves more effective. The Satell Institute is only as strong as its network, and by establishing a collective force (through nonprofit/for-profit partnerships) everyone wins together.  

This article includes excerpts from the research report “Engaging Your Workforce in Corporate Social Responsibility Programs: Five Strategies to Drive Engagement” by Dr. Lonneke Roza, Dr. Debbie Haski-Leventhal and Dr. Lucas Meijs. The full paper will be released in July.

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