Christian Arno

The benefits of CSR on employee engagement during a global pandemic

5 min Read
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Last week, over a Thursday afternoon virtual pint, I asked a couple of members of the Pawprint team how they’re finding working from home 8 months in. Whilst the perks (lie ins, in particular) are still popular, I think generally we’re all feeling the effects of isolation in one way or another.

Pawprint isn’t alone on this; across the board employees are reporting strain on mental health, difficulty compartmentalising work and non-work life, and even ‘WFH burnout’.

In these particularly tricky times, employers must seek new and innovative ways to engage employees, or risk a struggling workforce that’s unmotivated and unhappy.

The cost of unhappy employees:

We can no longer rely on natural interactions like catching up over a cuppa, bumping into a colleague in the hall or ‘after work drinks’. Without a well-designed engagement strategy, your team could easily go weeks without talking about anything but work. And while that might sound productive, I can assure you in the long-term it’s not.

Disengaged employees cost the UK economy £340 billion every year (Perkbox). On the other hand, engaged employees boost productivity by 18% and profitability by 12%. Proactively seeking ways to encourage employees to bring their ‘best self’ to work is more than a culture-building exercise—it’s a financial decision.

Using CSR as an engagement tool:

One way businesses can boost employee engagement is through a well-designed CSR programme; one that gives employees the opportunity to bring their authentic selves to work, which studies show ‘significantly mediates the relationship’.

How do you design a strategy that encourages employee engagement? Simple; ask your teams what they care about. Centering your efforts around initiatives that make sense to your business, but that also tap into your employees’ interests and passions is the best way to get your people to turn up and get involved.

What do employees care about?

In the past, a competitive salary, cushy benefits and job security was enough for an employee to take, and stay put in, a job. Today and tomorrow’s workforce won’t work like that; they’re after ‘purpose’.

In Deloitte’s 2020 Global Millennial Survey (a generation which, by 2025, will be three-quarters of the workforce) about 75% of respondents said COVID-19 has ‘brought about an even stronger sense of individual responsibility’ and they ‘...intend to take actions to have a positive impact on their communities.’

“Millennials and Gen Z’s have been deeply affected by the toll of the pandemic; yet their resolve and commitment to improve the world remains steady,” says Michele Parmelee, Deloitte global chief people and purpose officer.

‘Protecting the planet’ consistently ranks high on this generation's priority list, with the pandemic actually galvanising them. In a primary survey by Deloitte, 50% of respondents said they thought it was too late to fix the damage that climate change has caused. When asked again in the middle of the pandemic, it was evident there’s a renewed sense of optimism; there was a significant dip in people who feel it’s too late.

Why is this relevant? Well, you’ve got a workforce that’s sense of responsibility is stronger than ever, and that is newly optimistic about saving life as we know it. If you’re looking for ways to engage them, look no further. Evidently, now more than ever, introducing environmental initiatives is vital for engaging, retaining and attracting talent. Not to mention, getting your business on the right side of history.

Inject green-thinking into your culture with Pawprint:

In McKinsey’s recent ‘How leaders can seize the moment’ report, it identified that—for businesses looking to build on engagement in 2020—using ‘behavioural science and digital technology to put employees in charge of their own journeys…’ is key.

This is where Pawprint for Business comes in; using a combination of technology, behavioural science and carbon data, our tool helps people measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprint at work. Employees—in charge of how, when and how often they engage with their green goals—are empowered to fight climate change and encouraged to do it in a way that suits them.

And businesses? Businesses don’t only benefit from a boost in employee engagement; they’re also armed with data and insights around employee sentiment and carbon reduction. With this information, ‘a green culture’ is no longer a box-ticking exercise. It’s a measurable objective that can be edited and altered to find best fit for the firm and its people.

Lastly, Pawprint for Business makes the power of collective effort visible. A small change by one employee no longer falls by the waste-side, because it’s tracked and added to a business’s collective reduction. Seeing how a small action can add up to a big impact will galvanise employees and create a company-wide, employee-driven environmental movement. It’s like a green shot that goes straight to your business’s head, in a good way.

Thinking about Pawprint for Business?

From evidence that sustainability is an existential issue for businesses, to how Pawprint delivers 360° board value, we’ve got one helluva business proposition for you.

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