3 Tips for Launching Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility

As the holidays come to a close, many companies all over the world are doing two things: Reviewing their 2017 performance and selecting charities to receive their official nod to holiday generosity. It’s worth asking how many of them have connected the two in developing their 2017 strategies. Corporate philanthropy isn’t just an obligation, after all; along with helping others, corporate social responsibility (CSR) offers an opportunity to inspire employees and attract new customers.

A few decades ago, no one expected companies to play the Good Samaritan. But in today’s era of “compassionate capitalism,” it’s almost de rigueur for companies to demonstrate some level of altruism, whether it’s promoting green initiatives, improving their local community, or lending their support to a global cause. Corporate social responsibility has become so hardwired into our business culture, in fact, that enterprise brands can look stingy and uncaring if they lack a robust program.

Of course, there’s something else typical of big corporations today, and that’s global expansion. And the intersection of global market entry and CSR can be a tricky one to navigate, given the different cultural priorities regarding these programs. Leaders often follow the saying “people, planet and profit” when it comes to investing in CSR but that can be a bit too simplistic on an international scale. To launch an effective program, global leaders must consider the following factors in their approach.

Figure out which buyers care about your initiatives.

While there’s been some debate on how profoundly CSR programs influence buyers, one Neilsen report showed in Italy Millennials, and Generation Z would pay more for products that were organically grown and ethically produced – And this is the trend globally. While retail slows down in Europe and North America, consumers are looking towards those products which focus on personal wellness and sustainability. In the developing world, it is still essential to ensure research and development, manufacturing and other production considers the community’s needs. Government officials and locals can block the success of global entry if specific environmental and societal criteria are not met.

Design a strategy that will ignite your workforce.

The Gallup Report for 2017 shows only 15 percent of the workforce engaged and actively engaged— a disheartening statistic. The data states that manufacturing and production are the primary cause of a lack of morale. A Corporate social responsibility program may interest your customer base, but it could indeed act as a morale booster for your workforce. The importance of a sense of meaning at one’s job has been proven time and again – and participating in a global mission can be even more galvanizing. This sense of meaning is extraordinarily powerful for remote teams, as sharing the same purpose can deepen connections between far-flung colleagues and dispersed offices.

For instance, each region might contribute toward a different local cause, such as rebuilding from a natural disaster in a struggling community – everyone will post photos and updates to the same internal site to educate and inspire others. Another option is having everyone adopt the same internal initiatives. Going green is obviously a popular one; offices can hold contests on reducing waste and packaging materials, exchange ideas on setting up carpool systems or show off their new energy-efficient lighting. Employees in Hong Kong who ordinarily might never interact with employees in Toronto will enjoy common ground that ultimately fosters deeper engagement for everyone.

Shift from CSR to Social Impact.

Particularly in today’s political and environmental climate, we need to ensure our efforts are not abstract. In touting CSR as making a social impact, everyone can relate. Leaders become advocates; employees care about making a difference. Alice Korngold wrote, “A Better World Inc.,” where she talks about how companies can make a positive social impact where governments cannot. We’ve seen this recently with the Paris Accord Agreement where hundreds of corporations have said they will uphold its principles even during the political debate.

Sometimes companies must commit to CSR that holds a personal significance for their partners. Ultimately every global company should consider the impact of corporate social responsibility initiatives on its workforce, its customers, and its communities before making a significant investment. The wrong program can go ignored by both employees and customers.

But the right program can put a halo of appeal around a brand image, inspire your workforce—and make a real global impact at the same time.

For a list of the top 20 CSR programs in 2017 and the companies they belong to, see here

Image Copyright: trueffelpix / 123RF Stock Photo 

A version of this post was first published here. 

5 Ways to Rekindle Your Passion at Work

Work Happiness

‘Tis the season of love. But has your relationship with your work been stuck in a rut? Do you dread Mondays? Do you groan when you look at your emails? Are you always working for the weekend? If so, let me show you five ways to rekindle your passion at work.

Like with people, many fall in and out of love with their jobs. We start in that honeymoon phase, but as the novelty wears off and the responsibilities grow, we can begin to go through the motions and see only the negatives.

If you feel this way, you’re not alone. A 2015 Gallup poll found that only 32 percent of us are engaged at work. That means our relationship with our jobs needs some work.

So, this Valentine’s Day, try one or all of these five ways to rekindle your passion at work:

1. Go outside your comfort zone.

People get bored with their work once they’ve mastered it. As human beings, we need to be challenged. We need excitement to energize ourselves. So, take on a new responsibility, like a project outside your usual scope or learn a new skill. I’ve also found that working with new people and attending conferences can kick my enthusiasm up several notches.

2. Make a small change.

Routines are great, but they also feed the boredom I’ve mentioned before. Good news is, even the smallest change can refresh our outlooks on our jobs. Cleaning out or redecorating your workspace can reinvigorate. So, can taking a new route to work or altering your schedule (ask if you can work 8 to 4 instead of 9 to 5 so you can hit the gym after instead of before).

3. Think back to that honeymoon phase.

What attracted you to this job in the first place? Get out that job description (and your impressive resume) and reflect on the positives, including how much you’ve grown. Doing this may also illuminate some forgotten dreams or goals, too. Was part of the reason why you wanted this job to travel more or less, take advantage of benefits like paid graduate school, or even to try a new hobby? Do you still need to do this?

4. Realize what you can fix.

A lot of why we aren’t engaged with work is because we’re frustrated. Write down what’s bugging you and then mark what you can change. If you don’t like the typical review process of a project, suggest an alternate solution. If your schedule is too unpredictable, set boundaries with your superior. Some things may be out of our control, but some things may just need you to speak up.

6. Have a wandering eye.

Sometimes all it takes to appreciate what we have is to think about losing it. So look at other job opportunities. Recruiters exclusively use LinkedIn today, beef up your profile and respond to a few requests. Even go on an interview, and focus on how you’re feeling. Will you miss the people or the work? Or are you filled with excitement about the change? If you’re incredibly excited, then it might be time to try something new.

Like most relationships, our relationship with our jobs needs constant attention and work. We can take it for granted. So, try one or all of these things this Valentine’s Day and see if you might be able to rekindle that passion at work.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

5 Ways to be Happier at Work

happier-at-work

Who doesn’t want to be happier at work? Or in their personal life, for that matter. But, as most of us know, being happier at work is often easier said than done. Turns out though, that being happy isn’t just good for your personal well-being, it’s also excellent for your career–and for your organization, as a whole.

Positive people not only influence the environment around them, but they’re also more productive, goal-oriented and successful, according to the study Why Does Affect Matter in Organizations? The co-author, Sigal Barsade Ph.D., says, “If you’re in a negative mood, a fair amount of processing is going to that mood. When you’re in a positive mood, you’re more open to taking in information and handling it effectively.”

You can decide to be happy.

As crazy as that sounds, you can make a conscious choice to be happier at work and to do things every day that sustain that happiness. Simple but not necessarily easy. “Happiness at work comes from the inside out, says Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work: The Power of Purpose, Hope, and Friendship. “It’s something we create for ourselves, she adds.

According to McKee, many people will lose or leave a job and go somewhere else and find that they’re just as unhappy. McKee believes that people need to feel that work is meaningful, that they are doing something linked to their values, that they’re making a difference, and that they feel hopeful about their future. People need to see a clear link between the work they are doing now and the future that they want for themselves. “And additionally, we need friendships,” she states.

Here are five simple things you can do to be happier at work:

1. Meditate.

This doesn’t mean you have to get down on the ground and spend an hour in silence. Meditation just means taking some time to think quietly. Just a few deep breaths can quickly reduce stress. You can do this anytime–walking to meetings, going to the bathroom, waiting at the copy machine, or getting water. The key is to be aware of where your thoughts take you and to breathe. We often, in our stress and activities, forget to breathe.

2. Branch out.

As part of your decision to be happier at work, try expanding your social horizons. Network with colleagues with whom you haven’t spent much time. A best practice is to make a list of all the people you’d like to meet or who would be good for your career to know. Then systematically invite them for meetings or phone calls. You may find yourself being inspired and energized by their new perspectives, interests or skills. And you may find yourself having fun.

3. Join a cause.

Many companies have corporate social responsibility initiatives. Jump on board. Doing things for others can add meaning to your life and help you keep perspective. You may find yourself forgetting your own problems (at least for a little while), and you may enjoy feeling as if you’re contributing something meaningful (which can fill the void if we think we aren’t doing so professionally).

According to John Rampton, writing for Inc., “…research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile has discovered that no matter the size of a goal–whether curing cancer or helping a colleague–having a sense of meaning can contribute to happiness in the workplace. People stay in their jobs if they feel like they’re contributing something worthwhile.”

4. Give praise.

A sincere compliment can go a long way in the workplace. Some benefits include a more positive mood, greater engagement, improved performance, and enhanced job satisfaction. What’s more, showing gratitude is a great way to improve your mood, too. You can do it in public or leave a note or email.

Try to get in the habit of verbalizing what you’re thinking, rather than keeping it to yourself. If you’re thinking something positive about someone (whether it be that you like the color of their sweater or you appreciated the points of their presentation), say it!

5. Embrace those silver linings.

Sometimes you make mistakes. Sometimes things go wrong. While failure can feel awful in the moment, it can also be a valuable learning experience. Embrace the silver linings in those situations if you can. When dealing with mistakes and disappointments, try to find the lesson in the situation and shift your focus from feeling unhappy to improving the work tasks at hand.

No one is asking you to blast “Don’t worry – be happy” over the company intercom to help your team members embrace optimism. But you can decide to be happier at work. You can also lead by example, and adopt the five tactics I have just described. As you encourage a sunnier outlook, you just might be surprised at the boost in your performance and your team’s, as well.

Need help with your career? Contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc. 

Image: JamesOladujoye/Pixabay