Money & Business

For More Productivity, Think Social Responsibility

By / May 12, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

New research shows that companies looking to improve the performance and engagement of their frontline employees are finding success by implementing corporate social responsibility activities.

Everyone seems to have an answer for increasing worker productivity these days—by, for example, encouraging people to take a vacation, find a hobby, or redesign their office. If none of those seem to do the trick at your association, consider adding a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.

Companies that encourage employees to get involved in activities like charitable giving, environmental programs, and ethical business practices can improve their on-the-job performance, according to new research published in the American Marketing Association’s May 2014 Journal of Marketing.

The study, authored by Daniel Korschun of Drexel University, C.B. Bhattacharya of the European School of Management and Technology, and Scott D. Swain of Clemson University, surveyed more than 200 frontline employees—staff who interact directly with consumers—on the importance of CSR and how they believe their organization does with its CSR initiatives. The authors matched the employees’ responses with supervisor ratings of job performance.

“We find that CSR has a tangible impact on job performance and that performance improvements occur because frontline employees feel closer to both customers and the company,” Korschun said in a statement.

CSR provides common ground for the company, employee, and customer, which helps relieve natural tension between them, the authors said.

“Employees told us that CSR can be an ice breaker in conversations with customers,” said Korschun. “Once they find out that a customer shares a passion for social or environmental causes, it creates a bond that is highly motivating.”

Another benefit: When an employee sees support for CSR initiatives from every level of management, it sends a message that the whole organization shares values like caring and philanthropy, the authors said. And encouraging employees to talk with customers and develop shared experiences around the organization’s CSR activities is a great way to boost morale and keep staff engaged.

Does your association have any social responsibility initiatives? How do they engage your staff? Let us know in the comments.

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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