When it comes to the implementation of corporate social responsibility strategies, size tends to be matter. It is usually the national or international businesses that we associate with schemes that really make a difference to society and the environment, but there’s also a lot smaller businesses can do too.
There are many examples out there that prove you do not have to be a huge corporation to have a significant positive impact on the world around you. Fruitful Office, a UK SME that supplies fruit to workplaces around the country, has had a lasting effect by working with locals to plant and grow trees in Malawi.
But while there are plenty of examples of successful SME CSR in practice, there are also many more business owners who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of implementing a successful strategy. So how can you create a CSR programme that drives real change? Here’s our guide…
Take a collaborative approach
One of the benefits smaller businesses have over their global and international counterparts is the ability to involve their employees at every stage of the programme. For example, businesses can implement CSR initiatives that build on interests or charitable links employees already have. According to a recent study, 86 percent of millennials would consider leaving a company if its CSR values did not match their own. Clearly, that makes this a great way to engage and motivate your team.
Communicate it clearly
A CSR programme should not just be an afterthought buried somewhere in your website blurb. If you really want to make a difference then you should communicate your strategy, policies and progress to employees regularly and make it clear just how important a part of the business it is.
This type of internal feedback has a particularly strong impact in small organisations where word of mouth can spread far more quickly and effectively than it can in sprawling organisations. Channels such as internal networks and social media should be used and updated regularly to build interest and spread the word.
Use CSR to build your team
CSR activities are an excellent way for employees to meet and work with individuals outside their usual social network. This can be an excellent way to improve morale in small businesses and encourage employees who may not usually work together to build unity and help achieve a common goal.
As well as building stronger internal teams, CSR can be an effective way to improve relationships with clients and get to know other local businesses and community organisations.
Make it a recruitment and retention tool
Younger workers, in particular, are more attracted to working with businesses that have some purpose other than simply generating a profit. Encouraging employees to volunteer for local charities and community organisations and even allowing them paid time off to take part in social and environmental pursuits can be an extremely powerful tool when it comes to the recruitment and retention of skilled workers.
What challenges have you faced when trying to implement CSR programmes in your business? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.