21 August 2020

How to create an effective employer brand with CSR

Three people looking very happy to be volunteering and giving back to the community

Even the most traditional employer cannot have failed to notice that the world of recruitment has changed significantly in recent times.

Not only are there now more vacancies than people to fill them, but the UK is experiencing a skills shortage which means that the most talented job seekers can be picky about the roles they accept.

“Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck, they want a purpose,” a recent Gallup study concluded. Indeed, it is the case that up and coming employees are motivated by more than just remuneration. But what exactly is ‘purpose’ and how is it relevant? A London executive coach provides a no-nonsense explanation in one of his recent blog posts:

“The cynics amongst us would say the purpose of most businesses is making as much money as possible. But this has little resonance with employees. Far more effective is to make your purpose around having a positive impact on the world. Properly articulated, this should be felt deeply by your staff, galvanising productivity and engagement. And guess what? This also increases profit.”

In short, business success is no longer the only benchmark against which its desirability is measured in the eyes of today’s job candidates. In order to attract top talent, you need to focus on business ethics and your company’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In today’s competitive market, it is companies that actively embrace CSR as part of their long-term strategy that are attracting the best job candidates. That’s a powerful recruitment tool you cannot afford to ignore.

Here are three key areas in which your company will benefit from CSR activities, putting it in the best possible position to recruit from the top talent pool.

1. Align your core values

Today’s socially conscious candidates want to see what your company contributes to the greater good. This goes far beyond the odd office charity cake sale or annual Comic Relief jolly. Instead of half-hearted efforts at doing something for the community, candidates will need to be convinced that your commitment is real and sustained.

To do this, you will have to demonstrate that your CSR actions are deeply rooted in your company culture and that working for your business will help make a genuine social difference. You may have to define your company culture, or revisit it, and implement CSR activities, initiatives and strategies that show a clear alignment with your corporate values and brand messages.

Take the example of a company that presents itself as a team of bold problem solvers that go the extra mile. Job candidates may be looking for exciting charity involvements through sponsored skydiving or abseiling, or staff being encouraged to undertake long-distance bike rides in aid of a good cause. Creative companies may prefer to reinforce their core values with quirky awareness-raising competitions or art-based challenges.

2. Promote your CSR initiatives

Honesty, integrity and transparency go hand in hand. And while your company’s Corporate Social Responsibility activities should never be conducted purely for the sake of positive PR, there is much to be gained from showcasing and celebrating your CSR efforts appropriately.

Your website and social media feeds are the best places to share information and updates and drive engagement. Crucially, this is exactly where job hunters will look to find out what they need to know about your business, so make it easy for them to find the information they are looking for.

A dedicated CSR page on your website should clearly state your corporate values and how your pro bono work and charitable activities reinforce them. Show the world that you are a company who cares about more than financial profits. Share press releases and photos, blogs about money raised, interviews with charities you’ve supported and profiles of employees who have taken part. Here are some great examples of companies who are doing an excellent job.

3. Engage your team

View existing employees as important brand ambassadors. Just as customer reviews and testimonials are a powerful way to support your brand, your current team embody your company’s culture and values. A happy workforce is a productive workforce, and the buzz your team members can create about your company through word of mouth, social media, Glassdoor Reviews and more is worth its weight in gold.

Warmly encourage your staff to engage with your company’s CSR mission and volunteer for participation in events and initiatives. Whether your strategy focuses on sustainability and environmental campaigns, social causes and community support, or employee welfare, it gives them a real opportunity to do something different in the workplace and ‘do their bit’ for the greater good.

“Companies engaged in CSR can reduce staff turnover rates by 50%,” states one recent study. Improved employee retention rates are a direct result of a happy, engaged workforce. And since job candidates highly value employers whose staff are enthusiastic about working there, your existing workforce can be a powerful hidden army helping you to attract the best talent.

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Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey has over a decade of experience in numerous HR and Marketing roles. Since becoming a full-time Mum, she enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge through her writing and connecting with like-minded professionals.

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