Modern CSR programmes have moved beyond simply aligning a company's business strategy and engagement with key stakeholder groups.
Today's Generation X and Y workers have a high level of social conscience and are increasingly aware of global and community issues, due to readily available mass media and social media via touch points such as smartphones. Local companies need to recognise this shift and ensure that their CSR programmes actively involve and encourage staff participation.
Research has proven that companies that actively pursue worthy environmental and social efforts tend to have more engaged employees. According to Net Impact's Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012, half of employees surveyed who have the opportunity to make a direct social and environment impact through their job reported higher satisfaction levels that those who did not have the opportunity.
Implementing CSR initiatives is a way for companies to not only improve and develop the environment, and community in which they operate, but also the organisation. Companies, no matter the size, should investigate the introduction of a CSR programme, with the main aim of creating a positive impact through the chosen activities. This will in turn benefit the community or project that has been chosen and the company's morale and internal development.
Today, the growth and development of successful CSR initiatives ultimately stems from the dedication of staff members who are committed to making a difference in their respective communities. An employee's involvement in the CSR initiative can then be translated into productivity and morale at the workplace. In our business, I can see the major impact that our activities have on our staff when they arrive back from painting a school or simply planting some trees, they are usually enthused not only about working for a company that allows them time off from their usual daily tasks, but also get significant 'downtime', impacting their stress levels.
When deciding to engage in CSR, companies need to evaluate their core message and values, and then support or develop initiatives that will reflect that message, while also addressing social or environmental challenges.
The format of CSR is constantly evolving, and over the years has become less about charitable donations and instead more strategically focussed, with many companies forming partnerships with NGOs and beneficiaries.
Within South Africa, corporate social responsibility and investment has a key role to play in assisting government to address the social needs of those disadvantaged in the country.
Companies can assist those disadvantaged sectors within our society by aligning their CSR projects with areas of need.
It is crucial for companies to have a focused CSR strategy in place, rather than numerous different CSR programmes and initiatives. A CSR strategy will ensure loyalty in the community and workforce confidence in the organisation. It can also lead to a more effective management of reputation risk, especially when navigating through tough economic conditions.
Hennie Heymans is the Country Manager DHL Express South Africa.