Developing A CSR Strategy: Letting Employees Share Their Skills (And Time) For Free

by André Gonçalves André Gonçalves

csr pro bono

hr Are you wondering how your company could improve its CSR strategy and its commitment towards people & planet? Good, because we’ve wondered about it too and we’re sharing 6 reasons why letting employees share their skills and time for free might be a good idea, both for society and for the business itself. 

A Wise CSR Approach – Why Should Employees Share Their Skills And Time For Free?

Why’s that? Well, you could always start or continue developing the company’s CSR strategy by doing a materiality analysis to find out what are the key issues you’ll address to make the business more people & planet friendly. Perhaps you’d understand the best would be to review your operations making them more sustainable and efficient, changing some workflows and betting on eco-design, switching to biodegradable or less polluting materials, buying new machinery or installing solar panels or even revesting walls and ceiling to improve isolations.

Perhaps it would be about reviewing your suppliers and working one with responsible ones that are transparent and accountable. Or reviewing salary gaps between directors and 1st line employees? Starting to develop diversity and inclusion policies perhaps? What if the business gave 1% for the planet? Or encouraged employees to commute? There’s really no limit to the number of initiatives, easier or more complex, cheaper or more expensive, involving many or few actors, that businesses can develop and implement in along their CSR path.

In this piece, we’re sharing 6 good reasons why businesses should let their employees share their skills and time for free and the value that comes along with this practice. And what does this exactly mean? Well, it means a number benefits can be taken out of encouraging employees to participate in goodwill,  pro bono, volunteering activities, where they can, for instance, give their manpower to paint walls for a health association or to do a beach cleanup. Or to collaborate with a non-profit focused on social entrepreneurship and go teach about innovation at schools once a week. Employees could as share their hard skills on GoogleAds, excel sheets and finance, or time-management, with non-profits or startups in need. But why should businesses let their employees, whose salaries they pay, spend working hours working pro bono for something or someone else?

Why Bet On Pro Bono And Volunteering Activities As Part Of The CSR Strategy?

1 – A Corporate Gift To The Planet And Society

First things first. Reason number one to do it is: by taking this CSR approach the company will be contributing to improving society and/or the planet! It’s about doing good. And doing good is always good, isn’t it?

2 – From Purpose To Engagement And Productivity

csr volunteer pro bono

The truth is that 73% of purpose-oriented people are satisfied in their jobs. People are increasingly looking to consume from brands that are transparent and responsible. At the same way, employees also want to work for purpose-led companies, especially the young generations entering the job market today and over the last years. So why not give them a taste of how it feels like to help and contribute for a higher purpose, even if it is one that does not directly connect with business’ core impact? They’ll come back feeling more engaged with the organization, and studies have been showing engagement has a significant positive effect on employee productivity.

3 – From Engagement To Reputation And Improving Employer Branding

You know a company’s employees are its best ambassadors, right? They have the power to improve or denigrate a company’s reputation using the word-of-mouth and by sharing their feedback on social media channels or reputation platforms like Glassdoor. These kinds of actions, either by encouraging employees or saying yes when they take the initiative of making proposals themselves, have the power of making them feel like they work for a company that wants to make the world a better place. They’ll share this feeling and it will contribute to improving the company’s reputation, attracting candidates wanting to have a positive impact. This would reduce costs with HR as 1) recruitment costs would decrease and 2) turnover would likely decrease too.

4 – Creating Synergies And Developing The Company’s Culture

In big companies, it might be hard to get to know everyone, at least in a meaningful way that goes deeper than the usual “hey, how are you, all good”. Now imagine your company organizes pro bono activities where people from different departments have the opportunity of spending an afternoon working together. They might go along well, find ways of creating synergies at work and reinforce the company’s culture and cohesion. And with the MIX Movement platform, it’s even possible to organize pro bono activities according to the areas employees feel more attached to.

5 – Going Around Impacts You Can’t Go Around Easily

csr idea pro bono

You’ve done your materiality analysis and there are some things you’d like to change to improve the sustainability of the business and fight climate change. However, these changes are too expensive to be implemented right away or they’ll mean a complete change in the business model, meaning it will take some time to re-design a new strategy and all that comes along with it. For instance, imagine you own a taxis business and you’d like to reduce GHG emissions and switch to electric cars. Nonetheless, you can’t that investment yet. Well, involving your employees and encouraging them to go and plant trees can be a good idea to make it up for this negative impact. Or imagine you want to contribute to the movement of bringing more women into the STEM areas as your company belongs to the tech field – spreading awareness at schools, by delivering workshops for instance, on how cool it is to be a data scientist can be a good idea too and it’s good for employer branding too!

6 – Fostering The Transition To The Workplace Of The Future

The workplace of the future. It’s a hard topic this one, especially as we’re not clairvoyants. But the expectations of the generations entering the workforce today seem to be focused on autonomy, influence, fair compensation, and handling them the resources they needed to do their job. They’re also after flexibility to better balance their personal and professionals lives and working with a company whose purpose and values are aligned with those of their own. For some of the jobs performed today, isn’t it time to decouple productivity from the number of worked hours? Time to let employees take responsibility for their own agenda and work, leading them instead of managing them? If you’ve empowered your employees and you trust they won’t let the business down, why not encourage these CSR initiatives to take place from time to time?

Sharing Skills And Time For Free – It Doesn’t Work For All Businesses

csr pro bono activities

Despite the benefits mentioned above, it’s important to keep in mind that these CSR initiatives aren’t suited for every business, as it depends a lot on the activity sector, the industry or the business model. Businesses with client support will find it harder to organize team activities during the working schedule. It may be also the case with activities that require 8 hours full attention, such as air traffic controllers. In the end, it’s up to each business and CSR managers to define what’s best to do. But one thing is for sure: sharing skills and time for free is a good CSR solution for many businesses.

 

Image credits to planting on Shutterstock, volunteering on Shutterstock, trash on Shutterstock and customer on Shutterstock

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