While companies understand that corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are increasingly vital to building a reputable employer brand, few have a holistic CSR strategy that engages employees, communicates impact to participants, and showcases initiatives and results outside of the company. Here are four essential building blocks for developing a corporate social responsibility strategy that increases employee engagement, improves workplace culture, and retains top performers.

Step 1: Connect Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives to your Company Mission

Most companies engage in corporate social responsibility, but few approach the concept in an integrated way, by building programs that closely align with your organizational mission and vision.

For instance, a real estate company may invest in initiatives that help to beautify the local community. They might also choose to host a dog adoption event. Both are undeniably valuable efforts in their own right. But only one actually connects directly to the core purpose of the realtor.

A connection to the company mission is a crucial first step to make the leap to employee retention. It makes the entire effort more intuitive, helping your employees quickly and easily understand why they should participate. Participation, in turn, becomes closely associated with their daily work, causing them to be more engaged and likely to stay in that line of work and with the company.

Step 2: Showcase Senior Leadership Participation

As with many organization-wide initiatives, CSR will fail if your leadership doesn’t buy in. It might stand up on its own simply because the efforts themselves are worth pursuing, but your team won’t believe that the work matters to the business that employs them.

That’s why you have to drive CSR participation from the C-suite. If your team sees company decision makers pitch in and help, the mission focus moves from theoretical to real. It becomes clear that the organization doesn’t just enable involvement, but truly values and is invested with the local and wider community.

Considering the fact that 75% of millennials would take a pay cut if they can work for a company that’s socially engaged, this commitment is in the best interested of senior leadership. Older demographics don’t feel as strongly but tend the same way. Leadership involvement is among the best ways to show that your organization cares about its community, and is taking steps to improve it.

Step 3: Align CSR Programs with Employee Interests

Yes, your corporate social responsibility efforts need to be vision-driven. At the same time, they also need to connect to your employees’ passions. That’s not always possible. But when it is, you can create a powerful program designed to draw in new participants and expand your relationship with existing employees.

Consider the community beautification effort mentioned above. Now, imagine how powerful that effort becomes if the majority of your team actually lives in that community. Suddenly, they’re participating in an initiative designed to make their own lives better.

The best part: they recognize that it’s driven from a company level. They recognize that their employer cares not only about the community, but also them specifically. That’s a powerful motivator to not just participate in the effort but stick with the company for the long run.

Step 4: Recognize High-Level Participants Across the Company

We already know that public recognition of success can drive employee retention. If your team feels valued, they’re naturally more likely to stay with your company. When they feel that their work is crucial to the organization’s success, that effect only magnifies.

Traditionally, most companies apply that knowledge to internal, performance related awards. Put simply, there is no reason not to expand it. What if you take the same general approach, and use it to recognize members of your organization who are most actively involved in the CSR programs you are running?

You can accomplish this in a variety of ways. Donation drives, green living competitions, and other initiatives are one example. Another one is to simply recognize those among your team who have contributed the most to the community on a monthly or annual basis. A short ceremony or integration into your existing recognition efforts might be all you need to increase the excitement, engagement, and loyalty with your organization.

Make Corporate Social Responsibility Part of Your Workplace Culture

Corporate social responsibility is well worth the commitment to better the communities around us.  That doesn’t mean it can’t also be worth the commitment from a business standpoint. Built the right way, considering the needs and preferences of today’s workforce, you can use it as a core tool in building employee retention.

Leverage your CSR program to increase employee retention and loyalty among your team. The result?  A more comprehensive program that benefits your organization as much as it builds up your organization’s involvement in the community around you.