How CSR affects profit

28 september 2020, 06:00
How CSR affects profit
How CSR affects profit
Inside a Corporate Foundation #2
The past years have taught me that the success of a CSR programme really does depend on the amount and importance of the stakeholders you have on board. Even the ones with a completely different perspective on societal impact. Those who just care about… well, profit. This blog shares ten reasons why they should care about CSR. Enjoy reading – and don’t forget to let them read it too!
Money, money, money
This blog is meant for all readers triggered by the word ‘profit’. It’s also meant for the readers who don’t necessarily care about profit, but are having a hard time dealing with people who do. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with profit or money. Some say it can even make you happy. It certainly makes your boss happy, so for that reason alone it would be interesting to learn how to make more of it. 
As you probably know, there are many ways to increase profit. The most simple one: cutting costs. Though, this activity might not always work out the way you’d want it to. Especially if it means cutting the salaries of your employees. But, what if you could increase your profit ànd make your employees happy? Good news, the two are actually correlated. According to a Gallup study, companies with higher employee engagement are 22% more profitable and 21% more efficient! 
So, profit is influenced by employee engagement. What does that have to do with CSR?
What profit and non-profit have in common
For those of you who read my previous blog and are now wondering what happened to the idealistic girl who believes all corporates should step up to save the world… Don’t worry. I’m still here. 
In fact, the past years have taught me that the success of a CSR programme really does depend on the amount and importance of stakeholders you have on board. Even the ones with a completely different perspective on societal impact. Those who just care about… well, money. To even start the conversation on this subject, you need to find a common ground. I discovered that the common ground between doing good and making money is people. Both approaches need engaged people. 
If you’re not triggered by the word “profit” – and are still reading at this point – don’t stop now! The following information can be used to influence your stakeholders and take your CSR programme to the next level.
I know that you “profit-seeking professionals” might not be convinced easily, so I will give you three reasons… I could even give you five. You know what, I’ll give you TEN reasons why CSR increases your employee engagement and thus your profit. If you don’t believe me after that… Well, then you could always start cutting costs anyway.
Here we go.
Why CSR increases your employee engagement – and thus your profit
1.         A change of scenery
I’m sure that the work your employees are doing is a lot of fun and I definitely hope they wake up every day with a gigantic smile on their face. I hope they jump out of bed and rush off to work because they can’t contain their excitement for another minute before starting their day. If not, perhaps working at a dynamic social start-up every once in a while could do the trick. 
2.         Care about what they care for
Think about your colleagues. How well do you know them on a personal level? Take for example that one guy who is a vegetarian. Is that because he cares about animal welfare or is driven by environmental concerns? Another colleague volunteers at his football club on Wednesday’s. Or does he read to kids at the local library on that day? You might all have similar professional skills to do the work required within your team, but everyone is likely to care about different things. A company that enables its employees to spend time on the subjects they’re passionate about such as sustainability or education will make them feel more connected and committed to the organisation.
3.         You did great!
How often do you say this sentence to a colleague? Working in a high performance organisation might give you the feeling that good is never good enough. Though, you should never forget that you have incredibly valuable skills that could make a great difference in the world. For example; as a finance expert you usually work on complicated cases for multinationals. This is a great and rewarding challenge (despite perhaps the long hours, competitive environment and hard work). Once a month, through your CSR programme, you could use the same knowledge to support locals or NGOs with their financial problems. They will be incredibly grateful that you help them gain insight in how they could spend their money (there it is again) wisely. Win-win!
4.         I did great!
When these locals with financial problems say thank you, this probably makes you feel great. What feels just as great, is realizing that you really did great. That you really made a difference in someone’s life. And you should really be proud of it. This is a cool story to share at the office the next day, right?
5.         Real problems require real responsibility
Back to the theory. For many people, increased autonomy and responsibility in their jobs can lead to higher levels of engagement. Allowing employees to step out of their “safe” project team and into “the real world” to deal with a real human’s or non-profit’s problem will definitely make them step up.
6.         Learn on the job
How hierarchical is your organisation? Could employees with 1 year of working experience lead a client project? Or could you test your new tools and methodologies on that project with a tight deadline? Perhaps not. Doing a pro-bono project still requires you to be on top of your game, but it also enables you to innovate your way of working and think out of the box without your client staring you down with a stopwatch in his hand, every step of the way. And this type of “learning” is a lot more fun than taking an online course.
7.         Step out of the bubble
CSR or corporate volunteering activities broaden your network, show you new perspectives, allow you to meet new people and help you to gain new insights. They allow you to connect with other people outside - but also inside - your organisation. Another great way to engage your employees.
8.         A purposeful team event
Looking back at the past year, what are your fondest moments at work? Do you remember a specific moment you turned on your laptop and sat down at your desk? Or are you more likely to remember that time you did something crazy at a team event? That moment was hilarious, right? Team events are like nicotine shots to your employees’ engagement level. Organising an “impact day” with your team will have the same effect.
9.         The Millennial stereotype
A lot of people are on a continuous journey to find their personal purpose. Especially the new workforce is looking for a way to give back to society. Many of them struggle to find the cause, organisation or skill type that fits with who they are and what they believe in. Having a large variety of low key societal initiatives they can join, will help them get closer to finding their purpose. 
10.       Your boss in a soup kitchen
Depending on how much of an *ss your boss is, it might be more or less interesting to visualise this image. My point: being in a different environment will enrich professional relations and increase your engagement. You might even end up bonding with your boss a bit. That never hurts.
How’s your mindset now?
So, “profit seeking professional”... Are you starting to like the way your CSR programme is treating you? Are you perhaps even starting to believe it could offer something, even to you? Why not give it a chance and participate in a skills based volunteering activity? I'm sure there are a lot of nonprofits who could use your perspective on their business plan.
That is of course if you want to do the right thing. After all, it's not all about your personal growth and recognition…
Curious to read more about life ‘Inside a Foundation’? Follow my channel and I’ll keep you posted.
Laura Grootenboer is werkzaam bij een corporate foundation en schrijft blogs op persoonlijke titel.
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