Do you want to attract top talent? There are a number of things you can do to make your company a serious consideration for the best and the brightest in your industry. However, before you put a coffee bar by the front door and convert a conference room into a gym, take a look at corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how it factors into employee recruitment and retention.

Why Does Corporate Social Responsibility Matter?

According to a report published by Forbes, more than half (53 percent) of workers who participated in a recent survey from the nonprofit Net Impact stated that having a job where they can make an impact is important to their happiness. 35 percent said that they would take a 15 percent pay cut in order to work for a company committed to corporate social responsibility. 45 percent would take that pay cut in order to have a job that makes a social or environmental impact. 58 percent said they would take the 15 percent cut in pay in order to work for a company whose values reflect their own.

By 2020, it is expected that about half of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials — that is, individuals born between the years of 1982 and 2004. As noted in this report from Business 2 Community:

  • Millennials not only are more likely to buy products from a company who is involved in issues that they care about, but will also actively research what positions a company takes in regards to social issues and how much financial support they provide for those issues.
  • 56 percent of millennials surveyed say they will not buy products from a brand that isn’t concerned about sustainability.
  • 81 percent expect corporations to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.
  • More than 91 percent of the individuals surveyed said that working for a socially responsible company is important.

Glassdoor offers some additional statistics:

  • A Harris poll found that 75 percent of employees and job seekers expect their employers to support individuals and groups in need within the community.
  • 76% of millennials regard business as a force for social impact.

How to Get Your Employees to Participate in Your CSR Efforts

With half of the workforce being comprised of a generation who feels strongly about corporate social responsibility, it is certainly not a bad place to look when you’re considering how to recruit and retain top talent. How do you translate that desire into an effective CSR program, however? Here are a few pointers.

Get the Leadership and the Employees Involved at the Outset

As explained by Business 2 Community, an effective CSR program does not reside in the PR or marketing department. Rather, it flourishes when it becomes a strategic business priority company-wide, including leadership and employees.

Company leaders should share their passion for sustainability and lead by example. Employees who see leadership with social responsibility goals are more likely to follow. Employees who are educated on the benefits of corporate social responsibility projects and invited to share their ideas are more likely to remain engaged and excited about the program.

Research suggests that not only do engaged employees make happier employees, but volunteer opportunities allow employees to garner skills that they can bring back to the workplace.

Your CSR Efforts Must be Authentic.

Remember that millennials actively research the companies that they’re interested in. If your CSR efforts lack depth or sincerity, it will be noticed. Take care in choosing social platforms that reflect your brand’s true identity. Set realistic goals for your projects, and — if your company has multiple locations — you can even up the ante by encouraging competition in meeting your CSR goals between locations.

Stay Consistent

Not every CSR project will take off and make a huge impact in the first year. However, consistency is the key to meeting your goals. Use all forms of social media, to keep interest in your project fresh for employees, potential employees, and consumers.

Utilize other means for getting the word out, as well, including digital video and press releases designed to garner media interest in your project. Vary your goals from year to year. Keep in mind that consumers are being asked to donate money on a regular basis and that donations aren’t the only means to a successful CSR program. Simply keeping others engaged in what you’re doing and committing to volunteer hours are good ways to spread the word about your CSR.

Set High Standards

As noted by Forbes, more and more companies are following the suit of millennial employees and consumers by expecting the same social responsibility that they offer from those they obtain their supplies from, including increased transparency, environmental performance, human rights issues, and industry-wide initiatives.

Get Inspired: Three CSR Programs Employees Love

How have other corporations successfully integrated CSR into their hiring practices? Here are some examples:

According to this report from Forbes, the company United By Blue, which sells sustainable outdoor products, focuses on waterway conservation. It allows its employees to take time off to volunteer for company-hosted cleanups of waterways. The company’s focus is on a pound of trash removed for every product sold. So far, the company has removed over a million pounds of trash from waterways.

Engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti was able to accumulate more than 1,500 hours of volunteer time in 2016 by allowing groups of employees to focus on issues that mattered to them. One group volunteered at GrowNYC’s teaching garden, an urban farm that uses recycled plastic lumber for vegetable beds and rainwater harvesting systems.

A nonprofit called Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG) was formed by three venture capitalists and joins the efforts of a number of different companies for its annual Tech Gives Back day. Currently in its seventh year, TUGG had 1,500 volunteers for its event, representing 90 companies at 50 volunteer sites.