Canadian Packaging

Corporate social responsibility = engaged employees


January 26, 2010
by Purchasingb2b staff

Have you ever wondered how much your company’s ethical buying strategies or green procurement plans influence staff morale?

More than you might think, according to new research.

Human resources consultancy Hewitt Associates partnered with Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) to probe the relationship between perceptions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement.

The two parties gathered information from the 2010 Best Employers in Canada study and the companion Best Small and Medium Employers in Canada report. From that, they were able to distill information on engagement and CSR from more than 2,000 leaders at more than 230 workplaces.

In total, 86 percent of employees at organizations with high engagement said they work for a socially and environmentally responsible employer. At organizations with moderate employee engagement, that figure was 71 percent; for those with low employee engagement, it was just 60 percent.

“The findings demonstrate that organizations with high employee engagement have a higher degree of readiness to focus on CSR as a strategy to improve overall organizational performance and better meet the needs of employees and external stakeholders,” explained Neil Crawford of Hewitt.

Certain CSR initiatives were common among companies with a high degree of employee engagement. Four in particular stood out:

1. Responsible purchasing of equipment and supplies;

2. Waste reduction and recycling;

3. Use of videoconferencing or teleconferencing to replace business travel; and

4. Community investment through fundraising and sponsorship.

Less popular on the CSR front were efforts to offset business travel with carbon credits and the subsidization of low-carbon travel.

Barb Steele, director of membership at CBSR, says the findings send a clear message to employers: responsible processes—including procurement strategies—produce engaged employees.

“Not only do the results establish the strong connection between CSR and employee engagement, we’ve learned that declining employee perceptions of CSR within an organization can be a significant threat to engagement for over a third of organizations,” she said.

“Combined initiatives to sustain both employee engagement and support CSR transformation will likely yield a better return on investment than individual non-co-ordinated efforts.”