Corporate Social Responsibility – A Powerful Tool for Engaging Employees

Posted on November 14, 2014 by Bruce Campbell.

Most people want to work for organizations that are socially responsible — that give back to their communities, and work to protect the environment, for example. And intuitively, it  makes sense that when employees view their employers as good corporate citizens, it should help to strengthen their engagement. Modern Survey now has compelling proof that employees’ beliefs about the social responsibility of their employers are indeed strongly linked to their engagement levels, especially for the youngest generation.

Our late September National Workforce Survey of a nationally-representative sample of 2000 U.S. workers included the following 3 items (answered on a 5-point agreement scale):

  • It is important to me to work for a company/organization that is socially responsible. 62% of all survey respondents agreed.
  • My company/organization is taking important steps to protect the environment.  Notably fewer, 49% agreed.
  • My company/organization does a good job of “giving back” to the communities in which we live and work. 64% agreed.

Interestingly, there was no significant difference in agreement to the “importance” item, despite the commonly-held opinion that Millennials are substantially more concerned about social responsibility than older workers are.

When you look at strength of the relationship between answers to the other 2 items and engagement, what you find  is compelling evidence that social responsibility has a real impact. Modern Survey’s criterion for categorizing an employee as Fully Engaged is quite stringent. In our September workforce study, only 16% of all U.S. workers qualified as Fully Engaged. That number almost doubles, to 26%, when you look at employees who agreed that their organization protects the environment. By contrast,  when you look at people who don’t believe their organization protects the environment, the number of  Fully Engaged employees drops to a mere 3%. And 56% of those who feel their employer isn’t environmentally responsible are clearly Disengaged, compared to only 8% Disengaged among those who believe their employer works to protect the environment.

Being perceived as “giving back” also shows a strong link to engagement. Overall, 22% of employees who see their employers as giving back to their communities are Fully Engaged, while there is a whopping 67%  level of Disengagement among employees who don’t feel their employer “gives back.”

The link between favorable views on social responsibility and  higher levels of engagement is evident for all generations,but it is especially strong for Millennials.  When you look at Millennials who see their employer as “giving back,” 26% are Fully Engaged (vs. the 22% for all employees cited above). And when you look at Millennials who feel their employer is protecting the environment, 31% are Fully Engaged (vs. the 26% of all employees cited above).

The implication of these findings is clear. Taking actions that demonstrate a real commitment to social responsibility is not only the right thing to do. It is also a power tool that you can use to achieve and maintain high levels of engagement among your workforce, especially the Millennials.

To learn more about Modern Survey’s approach to employee engagement, go to mThrive or email



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