Aligning Employee Engagement with Corporate Strategy

A crucial aspect of corporate citizenship is the ability and desire to engage your company’s employees. Implementing volunteer, giving, and other “responsible” programs help to not only enhance your company’s reputation image, but more importantly, the loyalty of your employees. In our September webinar, we will explore the ways in which companies can most effectively execute these efforts: by aligning them with their overall corporate strategy.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report, 70% of the American workforce is “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” with their work. These employees are more likely to be emotionally disconnected from their workplace and less likely to be productive as a whole. Additionally, many American workers do not feel that they understand their company’s brand promise and brand differentiation, meaning they are unable to effectively communicate this to customers, or become more connected to the company themselves. This inability to articulate the goals and vision of one’s company can only add to the likelihood of disengagement by employees in their daily work.

How can these engagement issues be addressed by CSR efforts? Successful CSR programs can help to overcome engagement gaps by not only providing opportunities for employees to connect with the company “outside” of their immediate responsibilities, but by integrating the central goals of the company within those programs. For example, a healthcare company is better equipped to provide healthy living programs within their local communities, such as vaccination clinics, local fruit and vegetable markets, and facilities that encourage exercise. On the other hand, a shipping company is better able to offer business support to local non-profits or start-ups due to their expertise in logistics.

Aligning CSR programs with corporate strategy is thus a win-win: employees feel more engaged and connected due to using their specific skill set in an altruistic setting, and companies reap the rewards of an enhanced public reputation and employees who are more excited to work for them. The benefits of this relationship can be seen by those organizations who apply the CSR-corporate goal alignment strategy. As executives related in our State of Corporate Citizenship report, they are nine times more likely to report success with reputational and cultural goals when they integrate corporate citizenship and business goals, with the most pronounced gains in an improved ability to motivate employees. Moreover, as Dr. Kellie McElhaney, Founding Faculty Director of the Center for Responsible Business at UC-Berkeley, and author of Just Good Business: The Strategic Guide to Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand states, using an integrated approach can greatly enhance the effectiveness of CSR and the company’s production overall. “CSR can be both a risk mitigation strategy and an opportunity-seeking strategy, and leaders should look for the “sweet spot” within their organizations—that is, the intersection between business and social/environmental returns.”

To see how companies have been able to successfully integrate their CSR efforts and corporate strategy, our September webinar will highlight the stories of two member companies who have done so: Humana and Discovery Education.

  • Humana’s focus of being a “well-being provider” informs their CSR efforts to improve the health of their associates, their members, the communities they work in, and the planet overall. Humana has therefore created such programs as HumanaVitality which rewards members for making healthy choices in their daily lives, to Humana Communities Benefit which provides grants to community organizations that promote healthy behavior and relationships.
  • Discovery Education’s emphasis on providing innovative digital content to empower teachers and students has led to a number of CSR efforts centered upon improvement in education. Two examples include Discovery’s 3M Yong Scientist Challenge which is the nation’s premier science competition for grades 5-8, and their partnership with Siemens and Oak Ridge Associated Universities to offer professional development to educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

To learn more about these companies’ efforts and how you can align your corporate and CSR strategies, members of the Center may view the archived webinar here.