Strong relationship between engagement, CSR: Study

Declining employee perceptions of corporate social responsibility can be significant threat to engagement

There is a strong correlation between employee engagement and employee views of their employers’ record on corporate social responsibility, according to research by Hewitt and Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR).

In looking at Hewitt’s Best Employers in Canada and Best Small & Medium Employers in Canada studies, Hewitt and CBSR gathered opinions from more than 100,000 employees and 2,000 leaders at about 230 workplaces to understand the relationships between CSR perceptions, engagement and other work environment factors.

“The findings demonstrate that organizations with high employee engagement have a higher degree of readiness to focus on CSR as a strategy to improve overall organizational performance and better meet the needs of employees and external stakeholders,” said Neil Crawford, Hewitt’s leader of the Best Employers in Canada study.

Eighty-six per cent of employees at organizations with high engagement agreed or strongly agreed they worked for an employer that was socially and environmentally responsible. That figure was 71 per cent at employers with moderate engagement and 60 per cent at those with low engagement.

"Not only do the results establish the strong connection between CSR and employee engagement, we’ve learned that declining employee perceptions of CSR within an organization can be a significant threat to engagement for over a third of organizations,” said Barb Steele, director of membership at CBSR in Toronto. “Combined initiatives to sustain both employee engagement and support CSR transformation will likely yield a better return on investment than individual non-coordinated efforts.”

When asked about the potential benefits of environmentally responsible practices, the senior leaders’ top three responses were: a positive organizational reputation, higher or sustained employee engagement and eliminating waste or reducing the impact on the environment.

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