Is CSR the Solution Your Company Needs?

Every day we work hard at our jobs, and it looks like we’re working harder as time passes on. With downsizing, streamlining staff, and the higher pressure on performance, workers are feeling overworked, tired, and underappreciated. Americans work harder than any developed nation in the world, and it’s been increasingly getting worse; from 1970 to 1990, the time Americans spent at work increased by about one month per year. In 1999, about 20.5% of the workforce (approximately 25 million Americans) reported working a minimum of 49 hours per week, with approximately 11 million of the 25 million said they worked longer than 59 hours each week. Then, in 2014, the Washington Post reported that the average work week had increased from 40 hours to 47 hours for full-time workers.Is CSR the Solution Your Company Needs?

People are spending more time now than ever at work, and are getting little in return as reward. According to the Harvard Business Review, the longer work weeks are making employees less productive and causing them to feel disconnected from their employer and their job.

So how do we rekindle the passion employees feel at the inception of their career? How do we reconnect them to the work they do and help them see the bigger picture of how their work can have a larger impact? One solution is Corporate Social Responsibility.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a business strategy that looks outside of the business itself and into how the actions of the business can work to deliver better benefits to investors socially, environmentally, and economically. It focuses on a push towards sustainability, whether it’s for health, working conditions, human rights, or others, and looks to effect positive change. While this might appear on the outside as a PR stunt to garner attention, CSR is about promoting positive change from within. If done well and correctly, it can revitalize your employees and give them a sense of purpose in the work that they do.

For a great example of CSR, take a look at Google: through their project Google Green, they’re making strides towards using resources more efficiently and finding alternative (renewable) means of power. And they’re practicing what they preach. The Google Green effort has helped Google see a 50% reduction in power usage for its data centers. The money saved through this initiative can then be reabsorbed into the company to fund other efforts or redistributed to shareholders.

If your employees are feeling overworked at a dead end job, you need to reconsider your approach to employment and operating a business as a whole. If you give your employees something positive to work towards and their efforts a higher purpose, you’ll see employees who are more engaged at work and more productive as well.

How to Get Your Business Involved in Giving

As a business, you exist in a symbiotic relationship with the community that surrounds you. The community supported you and assisted you as you were in the process of growing, and eventually it’s your turn to return the favor. There are countless ways for your company to get involved; it’s up to you to decide how to best give back in a way that will make your employees feel more connected to the business and the community as a whole. Here are just a few ways to get your team involved.

  • Employee volunteer days.
    • Plan large events and gatherings that will bring your employees together in pursuit of a common goal. Take a day once a quarter to go clean up up an overgrown cemetery in the community, rake leaves in the park, volunteer at a nursing home, or find another way you can best help your community.
  • Clean up the roads.
    • Although the littering rate has dropped 61% over the past 40 years here in the United States, we’re still producing more than a quarter million tons trash each year. While it’s unlikely you and your staff alone have the time and resources to clean the entire ocean or reduce your city’s carbon footprint, you can make a difference at home by helping to clean up the litter and trash in your community. As a business, you could Adopt a Highway and take a day or two each year to walk alongside the road and clean up the trash gets tossed from car windows. You could also potentially save a fellow commuter a lot of financial burden and stress; just take a look at the damage bottles, cans, and plastic bags can cause.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
    • Food is one of the most basic human needs, but for some people constant access to it is a luxury that they do not have. That’s why community food banks exist; to make sure people who are struggling to make ends meet are able to put food on the table for their families. Have a day each week when employees go volunteer a few at a time on rotation. Organize food drives to collect more resources for the banks. Find ways that you can relieve the burdens the organization feels.
  • Sponsor a charity.
    • Do your employees have incentives for reaching their goals each month? Each quarter? Do you set aside money for company happy hours or bonding exercises? Why not set aside one quarter’s earnings to sponsor a charity? Have the employees decide collectively which charity to give to and set a goal to reach; benefiting a cause they’ve chosen to help will be their incentive to work hard and meet goals over the next three months.

How to Stand Out at Work

In the workplace, your average American is not simply looking to do the norm. Instead, many of these young professionals are looking to go above and beyond the day-to-day operations in order to propel them in a more favorable position. As much as we can attribute the idea of success to their personal and professional goals, many young professionals are trending to this gung-ho work mentality because of the fear of being labeled ‘average.’  

For me, personally, the idea of being labeled ‘average’ or ‘fine’ is not just hurtful, but frankly quite insulting. Yes, you are seen as an individual who can handle the day-to-day operations within the workweek. But to be associated with such a phrase implies a sense of mediocre work and indifferent attitude and work ethics. This phrase not only speaks to your professional abilities at the office, but also overshadows your opportunities to stand out as a leader and game changer.

In order for you to change any preconceived notions as an ‘average’ worker, it is imperative you internalize your strengths and professional goals for your job. Having those in mind will allow you to leverage any opportunity where you can stand out amongst the crowd.

To begin, make sure you know how to do your job and how to do it well. This will allow you to brand your professional skill-sets within the office in a positive light. Now as much as doing a strong job at your position can gain you praise and recognition, you want to understand that standing out as a leader takes more than the standard work responsibilities. To help you stand out at work, try and assume new obligations within your company. Even if these leadership opportunities are limited, try and ask your manager or supervisor for more responsibilities. For many managers, they recognize individuals who are willing to go above and beyond their daily task to help the overall betterment of the company. This can even lead to new and exciting opportunities when it comes to management.

One way to do this is by offering new and innovative ideas and suggestions. Start with what you know. The build upon that with how things can be done more effectively. For many workers, these suggestions can be a huge game changer in how they approach the job in a more optimal manner.

While it may be daunting to put yourself out there, it is absolutely vital if you want to grow and develop within your company year after year. For meetings, try not to sit quietly. Instead, contribute to the conversation on a higher level. Even highlight some of the work you have done with customers and clients that has led to a higher success. Remember, leaders are not silent in meetings. Be purposeful with your listening and act and speak out when need be. In addition, make sure you try and add value. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to repeat or rehash something that has already been said before. The more value you can add to the team the better.

Now, when it comes to your team, do not be afraid to offer help and advice, especially to new workers. You have already developed a strong reputation from the work you have done, even if you are just a few months into the job. This will allow you to develop that ‘go to’ reliable personality that can help elevate you at your company.

Last but not least, you want to make sure you are proactive. Whether it is a new project or an anticipated problem, make sure you are the person your manager and workers can entrust in you. This will allow you to become more a part of the company and diversify yourself from the herd.