Moving Towards Employee Social Responsibility

The theory of social responsibility and ethics applies for both individuals and organizations. It is important that we realize that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no different than employee social responsibility (ESR). Achieving the goal of social good is not merely a responsibility of those who occupy the corner office, but all employees, as it is their individual decisions and actions which drive an organization towards adopting ethical practices.

Global businesses can achieve greater productivity and performance from their employees by investing in them and training them to make informed decisions. Organizations need to work with the human resources (HR) team to ensure that policies are implemented in the organization that promote ethics and integrity, which in return builds good corporate citizenship.

HR development professionals need to make constant efforts by having mandatory ethics training sessions for all employees, as global firms have employees from all over the world, with different value systems. A well-explained value or ethics system for the organization helps to unify teams in an integrated manner.

We need to improve understanding of the relationship between CSR and ESR. Below are five key ways to engage employees in CSR that is directly linked to employee retention, productivity and overall engagement.

1. Taking one step at a time. We need to incorporate CSR practices in operational and managerial decisions—whether small or big. All employees need to be rewarded and recognized for making these decisions on an everyday basis. One needs to define social responsibility best practices for both internal and external stakeholders.

2. Integration at ground level. Organizational practices must integrate business and HR practices. One needs to educate and inform employees regularly on CSR and ESR. We need to ensure that ESR development is part of employees’ career development and performance evaluation plans. It should be an integral part of employee onboarding and recruiting.

3. Foster a culture of social responsibility. Managers should encourage team members to strategically think and derive creative solutions on social good practices that can extend beyond regular client servicing. We should find ways to recognize team members who think along these lines and find forums where they can share their learnings and best practices to encourage others.

4. Focus on human development. Policies and code of conduct help put an organization’s systems and processes into place. However, having a larger purpose of developing a workforce and instilling a unified value system that best showcases the company’s values should be a larger priority.

5. Implement and encourage green practices. It is important to communicate the company’s vision to strive for an environmentally friendly workplace with employees. Assess current working practices and their environmental impact and consider reducing employees’ carbon footprint and driving initiatives for recycling waste.

CSR can go a long way in building the corporate brand and attracting potential new hires. These initiatives help connect the employees together to achieve a common objective and help build a connection with the community they belong.

Organizing small initiatives such as volunteering with charitable organizations or community programs help employees find small but impactful ways to give back to society. It is a great way to have a sense of fulfillment and happiness in addition to the regular work one is hired for.

India is the first country in the world to mandate corporate social responsibility. The law requires large companies, including foreign firms, to spend at least two percent of their profits every year on CSR.

The bill applies to companies with an average net profit of at least 50 million rupees. There are many Indian companies which have extended this beyond the traditional approach and rather link it to their core business strategies. For example, companies like PepsiCo and Coca Cola invest in projects like water treatment plants that helps them become more sustainable and achieve higher profits.

All should be held responsible for their individual actions in building an organization that best captures the social responsibility practices. No one is perfect, but one should aim to design a system that makes being good as easy as possible. All should participate wholly to this practice and thrive to develop ethical foundations in strategies and policies.