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by Roy Saunderson | March 08, 2012
Employees are motivated by corporate social responsibility (CSR). The integration of social, environmental, and economic improvement through CSR makes workplaces more sound. Studies show that when companies implement CSR successfully, the result is positive employee relations with respect to recruitment, morale, retention, and productivity. Last week, I met with Josh Goldman, vice president of Conifer Health Solutions, which recently launched a CSR program that is responsible for activities on employee giving, community partnerships, local involvement, philanthropy, and employee volunteerism. Below are his top 10 ways to motivate the workforce through CSR.

1. Let your employees participate. While it is important that the company demonstrates its commitment by sponsoring events and writing big checks, letting employees experience the commitment firsthand is critical—like when Conifer employees were invited to join the company’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity International and help build homes across the U.S.

2. Let your employees lead. Conifer established an internal, employee-led ambassador program that helped steer volunteer and charity efforts in the local areas in which the company operates. This gave the entire company a feeling of pride and meaning to employees and their roles at the company.

3. Recognize attitude. One key potential benefit from CSR initiatives is establishing an environment that contributes to raising the commitment and motivation of employees to be more innovative and productive. When ideas start flowing and initiative takes hold, recognize the effort with individuals and teams.

4. Encourage employee referrals. Loyalty goes up when CSR-related programs go up. The positive culture and environment that is generated can help retain and recruit talent. Develop an employee referral program for your managers and employees. It can generate feelings of commitment toward your company and its mission and growth.

5. Bring CSR inside the company. Look for ways to help your employees grow inside and not just in the community. Invest in training, tuition, and any costs associated with their skill development. Goldman reminds us that corporate responsibility on the inside is just as important as on the outside.

6. Convert sick days to rewards. Since CSR generates more engaged employees, and we know they are likely to perform better and even take 3.5 fewer sick days per year on average, then why not create a rewards program with unused sick days? A strong CSR program can be significant in motivating employees to not only keep going to work but also showing up with real purpose.

7. Make your executive team visible. When your employees have gone above and beyond internally on a project or externally in the community, make sure it is recognized. Organize a town hall or a walk-through that shows utmost care and respect. Every employee that the executive team acknowledges should get a handshake and a personal thanks.

8. Encourage initiative. According to Goldman, a well-implemented CSR initiative leads to more satisfied employees. Studies show fully engaged employees are 2.5 times more likely to exceed their performance expectations than their disengaged counterparts. Make sure that you encourage initiative and big-thinking to grow the satisfaction your CSR programs have already started.

9. Create a competitive advantage. A real commitment to a CSR program can lead to a true and defining differentiation from competitors. Your employees will feel it, and so will your suppliers, partners, and customers.

10. Be loud. When you have done a great job with CSR, share it with everyone through social media, newsletters, media coverage, and face-to-face interactions. When your employees see the pride of the company, they will feel greater pride and the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm becomes contagious.

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Recognition Way and president of the Recognition Management Institute, www.realrecognition.com, which consults companies on improving employee motivation that leads to increased productivity and profit. He can be reached at roysaunderson@rideau.com. Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio.