CSR are three initials that are increasingly important to the ongoing success of companies of all shapes and sizes. Corporate Social Responsibility. Whatever service or product you are offering and however many employees you have on your payroll, both customers and staff are increasingly looking at you to be involved in projects that have either environmental benefits or that help the local communities in which the company operates.
For those of you looking to employ young people – students, Apprentices or graduates – if you want to attract the best talent out there, millennials are the ones who are looking to work at companies who are actively involved in meaningful community and environmental projects. They don’t just want to work for a company concerned with making only the biggest profits. It is important to them that the company shows it has an awareness of the contributions it can make to society and is making those contributions.
You might already be an employer at a company that is involved in various projects involving your local community and, hopefully, you are seeing the benefits from that. If your company isn’t already involved in any such projects and you are wondering how to get set up with this, the good news is, it is really simple.
The size of your company is irrelevant – you might be part of a large international corporation, you could be an SME or a start up. Whichever the case, all employers can do their bit and this can be anything from a large, ongoing project to small actions that make a difference. And it doesn’t need to cost a single penny or take up a lot of your time.
Aside from feeling good in the knowledge that you are doing your good deeds for the local community or, indeed for the planet, why else should you bother with these actions? Well, the good news is that the benefits are many for your company.
Benefits Of CSR
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits waiting for you when you choose to take on a bit of corporate social responsibility.
When you get involved in the local community and other similar projects, this builds relationships between your company and the local community. Obviously, these should be positive relationships. People will develop positive feelings towards your brand and, in the process, you will be increasing your visibility in a positive way.
Getting involved in the local community or larger projects is also ideal for building connections between yourself and other businesses and organisations as well as customers. It’s a good networking tool and it can open up opportunities for making connections with businesses you might not have considered otherwise. This can be especially useful for SMEs as you could find an organisation whose products or services complement yours and you can then team up to do joint promotional projects.
Your Company Can Build A Caring Image
Do you want to be a company who is seen to care or a company that is seen as detached from the local community and only interested in making money? A positive and caring image is one that will attract young people to apply for your vacancies and, any staff who go out there to get involved in community projects will be a human face representing your company.
CSR Is An Opportunity To Promote Your Company’s Name In A Positive Way
Conventional advertising is not the only way to promote your company’s name. Helping in the local community or getting involved in larger projects gets your company name out there.
Promoting the name of your company in a positive way is also good for your recruitment – young people will be more likely to know who you are and will have positive feelings about your firm. These are the people who will apply for your holiday jobs, part time student jobs, Apprenticeship programmes or graduate schemes.
You Will Have A Happier Workforce
A happier workforce is more productive and has good morale and this cuts down on staff taking sick days. Not only is a happier workforce good for your recruitment (word of mouth from employees who tell others how much they love to work at your company means you will have no shortage of applicants), it is also good for your staff retention. Young people cite happiness in the workplace as a high priority for them.
Getting involved in the local community gives your employees opportunities to do projects together that are outside the workplace. This means they will bond in different ways and these strengths can be transferred to the workplace. The outside activities make for a stronger team back in the workplace.
The other advantage for staff getting involved in community activities is that they will develop different skills which are transferable. This can be especially useful for your younger workforce who might have little or no previous experience either in the workplace or in working with others. They can broaden their skills base and gain a better understanding of where your company fits into the community.
CSR Will Help You To Build A Loyal Customer Base
Customers are increasingly aware of how companies contribute to local communities – especially their own community – and are more likely to buy products and services from you if you have built a reputation as a responsible, caring company.
Many consumers now expect this from companies; to be making at least some small efforts to contribute towards the improvement of the local community or the environment in some way. And studies are showing that if you aren’t making any positive contributions to the environment or the local community, customers who have long hailed your brand as their favourite are likely to take their loyalty elsewhere.
But, keep that loyalty by being a part of the community and this can benefit you in other ways, too. During a recession or other difficult periods for your firm, that community you have helped so much is more likely to rally to support you through the bad period, buying your goods and services or helping out in other ways.
How You Can Get Involved With The Local Community
So, now you know all the benefits of corporate social responsibility and getting involved with your local community, what are the steps you could take to start getting involved? The good news is, it needn’t be a daunting task and it needn’t be activities or projects that are going to take up a lot of extra time.
Let Your Employees Make The Decision
For some of you, as employers, you might not be from the area where your company is based and are therefore unsure about local projects you could be involved in. However, many of your employees are much more likely to be from the locality and, chances are, will be full of ideas about ways to help.
Getting involved in the local community is a great opportunity for an informal staff meeting about charities, organisations or projects that they have a personal affinity with. An ideas board could be set up so that suggestions can be made there and then votes could be taken for which cause to be involved with.
The prıoects you get involved in will be more effective for you if they are projects that make a real difference to the local community in a positive way. If you aren’t too familiar with the area, go out there and speak to people, social groups and councils about what they think is needed to make that change.
Make Charitable Donations
Not all companies have the time to actively participate in long term projects but one simple way to make a difference is to make charitable donations. These could be charities chosen by your employees and you could change the charity periodically. Make sure you publicise your charitable involvements in blog posts or emails so that customers and others know your progress.
Arrange Day Trips
Getting involved in the local community can be something as simple as arranging a day trip for older people or for children in children’s homes, for example. Again, this needn’t be something that is time consuming or require much organising. It can be as simple as paying for the transport or for entrance tickets to somewhere special.
Health and Wellness Initiatives
No one can complain that health and wellness is not a good thing, right? If you are part of a company that deals in this sector, why not set up an initiative in your community? It could be a project to get more children involved in sport or in walking to school rather than going by car. Even if your company isn’t involved in fitness or health, there are still ways to get involved. Employees could volunteer time to help or you could sponsor events.
Get Involved In Building Projects For Disadvantaged People
Are there any housing associations or cooperatives that are involved in a building projects that provide homes for disadvantaged people? You could ‘sponsor a brick’ or, depending on the nature of your company, offer your services or equipment to help with the project.
Offer Your Company’s Facilities Or Expertise
Take a look around your company facilities and land. Is there anything you could offer to the local community? Sports facilities for the local school or local sports teams, for example? Can your staff volunteer their time to offer their particular expertise on a local project?
Sponsored challenges are an excellent way to raise money for a local cause or charity and, if it is organised by your company, it is an easy way to get some visibility. Your staff can get behind the event, putting a human face to it and encourage others in the community to be involved, too. Sponsored challenges can be both fun and motivational.
Local sports teams are always looking for sponsors of varying descriptions. You could sponsor their kits or help with buying equipment and improving facilities. If a local team gets to the final stages of an event that is a way from home, you could pay for travel and accommodation or make contributions towards this.
Sponsoring can be done in other ways, too. You might sponsor a talented individual in some way or you could sponsor local events such as a community festival or carnival.
Arrange Local Community Projects
Does your community need a children’s play park or is there tired spare land that could become a pleasant green space for people to use? Are there running trails or walking trails nearby where people have neglected to take their litter home or that have become overgrown? Cleaning these up or contributing towards creating a green space can benefit the wellbeing of the community and give everyone an opportunity for hands on involvement.
You might have heard of the latest fitness craze; plogging. This is where joggers pick up litter as they go. If your company has a running group, this could be an easy way to get involved in the local community and get other local joggers involved, too.
A Collection Jar
What could be more simple than a collection jar in the workplace? Money collected could be donated or used to buy gifts at Christmas for local charities. The collection jar could be just a place for staff to put spare coins in or your could make a feature or a game of it. As an employer, you could contribute so much every time the jar reaches a certain amount.
Paid Time Off For Volunteer Work For Employees
This is a win win situation. The project which requires volunteers gets the people they need and your staff don’t need to give up their salary while they volunteer. What’s in it for you, if you are going to be losing a member of staff for a while? They will feel good about what they are doing and come back to work happier and more productive. They have also had the opportunity to operate in a completely different environment making decisions and working with different teams. After volunteering, your staff can return with more transferable skills and have often developed good leadership skills, too.
Donate Your Time
Could you and your team of staff donate their time at a local shelter, for example. This could be every few weeks or months doing tasks such as serving hot meals to homeless people.
Nobody wants their company to be known as ‘that place that pollutes our local community.’ As a company, you could be involved in local and national environmental initiatives. Locally, publish what you are doing to reduce negative impacts on the environment so that people know you are making an effort.
How do you recycle and how many tons have you recycled? Are you using any specialised equipment that has low energy usage? Do you have a car share scheme or transport scheme so staff are not clogging up the local roads as they drive to and from work. Any little thing you do to help the environment can be publicised and the local community will have a higher opinion of you and young staff will know that you are a company that cares.
Donate Unused Or Outdated Equipment
Can local groups or schools benefit from any of your outdated equipment? It may be outdated for the needs of your company but others could be really grateful for it.
Replenish Local Food Banks
Donating to local food banks is an easy way to contribute to the local community. If you are a catering company, this can be an ideal way to benefit others while getting rid of your unused or unsold products and ingredients.
Using Local Ingredients
Buying locally produced goods and foods is increasingly important to consumers. One way of contributing to the local community is by collaborating with other local businesses. Cafes could use the products of the local butcher or greengrocer for example. Each business publicising this shows customers how the community is working together and it is also publicity for your company.
Promote Yourself To Young People
Many young people often don’t have any idea what goes on in different workplaces. If you are in a local community, do they know what you do? If you aren’t a company that is a retail business with regular customer visits, is it possible to organise open days where you can show the public what takes place behind your company walls?
Do young people know what you do? Go out into universities, colleges and schools and show what your company does. Hold workshops. Offer structured work experience opportunities, apprenticeship programmes or holiday jobs for students. All of this contributes to the local community and you get to have a glance at the skills of young people so you can employ them later, if you wish.
And finally, doing your bit and contributing to the local community is always a good thing and holds many benefits for the staff of your company. However, don’t forget to publicise all that you do. Communicate with local media about projects you are involved in, tell those signed up to your newsletter, blog about it and use promotional hashtags. You should soon see the benefits for both your recruitment levels and your staff retention levels.