The days when people viewed companies as just a place to work are long gone. Today, companies need to show that that they’re aware of their wider role in the world and that they care for their employees. Small wonder then that the terms for these concepts — corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee wellness – have gained increasing currency.
For the most part, that’s a good thing. Trouble is, the two are often treated as completely separate practices, run by different departments.
That’s not so good. CSR and employee wellness, you see, work best when they’re complementary.
As we’ve previously written, CSR programmes can often seem like little more than window dressing with companies simply throwing a portion of their budget at a good cause.
A much better approach is to integrate CSR and employee wellness.
As Andy Hadfield of employee volunteering and CSR management tool forgood points out, CSR programmes that work in tandem with employee wellness and development programmes, “have been shown to improve collaboration, innovation and soft skill development.”
That’s all well and good in theory, but how do you actually go about integrating CSR and wellness programmes?
Use the skills you have
For many companies, getting employees involved in CSR involves getting everyone to do some menial volunteer work at a charity. It might look good from a PR perspective, but it may not be the best thing you can do for your employees or the cause their volunteering is supposed to benefit.
Instead, you should look to align the skills your employees have, with the needs of the cause. An NGO, for instance, might not have the resources to regularly go over their finances. If your company has an accounting team, they could help with that.
“For employees,” says Hadfield, “it is deeply empowering to volunteer around a skill they already have or are looking to develop”.
Make it personal
Of course, it’s not always possible to align your employees’ skills with the causes your company supports.
In those instances, it’s probably not the worst idea to give them a little freedom when it comes to choosing what CSR initiatives they get involved in.
It may sound like an approach designed to create extra admin, but there are actually several platforms, including the likes of causecast and forgood, out there that can help you and your employees manage this approach.
This kind personalisation means that employees are much more likely to get a sense of satisfaction.
Of course, employee wellness isn’t just about creating a general sense of mental satisfaction. Physical wellness matters too.
Given what we know about the dangers of sedentary, office-based lifestyle, it seems obvious that companies should be encouraging their employees to exercise.
Thing is, it isn’t always easy to change habits. One effective way is to provide incentives for meeting physical goals (number of steps taken in a day, for instance).
But this kind of physical-based approach also presents an opportunity to give back. You could, for instance, donate a set amount of money for every step your staff take in a step challenge. Thanks to platforms like Flabuless, it’s become increasingly easy to measure these kind of challenges too.
If you feel like your company’s a bit small to roll out that kind of challenge, you could always reimburse them for entering a major sporting event on behalf of a charity. Alternatively, you could match any money they raise from the event. Or, if you’re feeling extra generous, do both.
Good questions, great answers
Perhaps the most important thing you can do when it comes to integrating employee wellness with CSR though, is to consult your employees.
Ask them what kind of programmes they’d like to see and how they’d like to get involved. Tap them for ideas around initiatives your company can get involved in.
Let your employees drive the process, in other words, and they’re much more likely to be enthusiastic about, and rewarded by, your CSR efforts.