When we talk about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), we think of corporate sustainability, responsible business practices, environmentalism, and/or community engagement. We discuss annual reports in terms of triple bottom lines of economic, social, and environmental prosperity. However, when we discuss the social piece, we primarily talk in terms of the communities we operate in rather than the employees under our corporate umbrella.
If you are only reading this because CSR initiatives are mandated by your government or your shareholders or you need to build a business case for your executives, researchers have found that there is a stronger impact on organizational commitment by targeting internal people rather than external (1). However, be weary, the minute employees think you are undertaking CSR initiatives to increase your reputation you will be faced with lower worker effort and less consumer interest than if you had done nothing at all (2).
We need to ensure employees are part of our sustainability efforts. We discuss employee engagement and mental health as a way to increase productivity or to reduce costs, but not as a way to ensure people aren't leaving work worse than they arrived. If we are going to continue using the (awful) term Human Resources, then we need to ensure those resources are sustainable just like we would with any other resources.
That is, people need to leave work at the end of the day the same, if not better, than they arrived. This shouldn't be hard. In theory, work should be a place of challenge, achievement, and comradery. However, we see high levels of stress, turnover, absenteeism, low productivity, and so on and so forth.
How do you know where your company stands?
There are two approaches to creating a sustainable employee strategy. You can either just make sure people leave as they come in (baseline). Or you can make work a place where people leave better and thrive (next level). Some questions to ask yourself...