This is part of a series that summarizes the key points of Master and PhD theses on topics related to sustainability in business in Norway. S-HUB aims to be the hub for the best sustainability in business research in the country. If a Master or PhD student has written, is currently writing, or plans to write about your company please get in touch.
There is an emerging trend that employees seem to want more from a job than only performing their duties. Research shows that a good CSR strategy can influence both how current and future employees look at the firm. In fact, PWC highlights employee motivation as the second most important factor, after reputation, in helping managers argue for the profitability of CSR. Sadly, there appears to be less awareness among managers of what internal advantages that could be reaped from CSR compared to the external advantages.
Our master’s thesis explains how managers can best facilitate engagement from employees in their CSR program and how the CSR message can be communicated across the company to catch the employees’ attention. The master’s thesis is an explorative case study based on interviews with employees in two big Norwegian companies.
The employees interviewed perceive their firm’s involvement in CSR as something they expect their firm to have in place. They want their company to be conscious of its social responsibilities and to put effort into how it can give back to society. However, the employees’ motivation and pride as a result of their firm’s CSR program seems to be highly dependent on which CSR activities the firm chooses to engage in. Our study shows that employees tend to evaluate their firm’s CSR program as more credible when the firm handles its “own issues” before handling issues of a more external character.
Sounds like common sense, you say? Well, it’s not; curiously, many firms do not relate their CSR program to their daily activities. Employees may do important work for the society every single day, but instead of choosing to focus on this in the firm’s communication of CSR, the firm chooses to focus on the annual philanthropic donation they do every Christmas. The result? Employees obtain no ownership and no pride, and they are also likely to miss the internal communication of the donation as they struggle to find the message relevant.
It is important for managers to realize that which CSR activities they choose to engage in matters. Employees do not take any pride in their job or employer as a result of philanthropic CSR activities. What the employees appreciate, think of as trustworthy and get ownership to, is what the company does to help the society through the firm’s daily operations. This enables the employees to be proud of what they do good by being employed in the firm.