Corporate responsibility (CR) has been on the business radar for years. Many top companies, including Intel, Google, Microsoft and others¹, have established corporate responsibility and philanthropy programs. But programs are almost always limited, with little to no employee engagement or metrics demonstrating ROI or business success.
That’s changing, and will continue to shift in 2019. Corporate responsibility is no longer just a nice-to-have program that looks good in press releases. Instead, CR is becoming an integral element in value propositions for companies that need to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
There are three key ways that CR will affect your business success (or contribute to its decline) in 2019.
CR Will Become a Major Marketing and Sales Differentiator
Markets are becoming increasingly saturated and competitive, forcing companies to come up with new ways to expand and win customers. Amazon, for example, is leveraging new markets like Singapore² and products that are ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’, to keep growing.
But new markets and products are no longer enough to drive success. For several years now, the major differentiators for successful companies have been shifting to social and environmentally responsible practices. The major drivers of that shift are businesses’ own customers. Today, workplace giving statistics and corporate responsibility research show that customers go out of their way to support brands with CR programs.
- 67% of consumers buy from a new brand for the first time because of its position on an important issue.³
- 65% of consumers refuse to buy from brands that stay silent on issues they should address.³
- 66% of consumers will pay a premium for sustainable brands and products.⁴
Without a strong corporate responsibility program, businesses are now missing out on the majority of their given markets. That will only intensify in 2019, as more consumers search for eco-friendly products, prioritize environmentally-conscious packaging, and go out of their way to support companies that give to charity and volunteer for causes.
In 2019, it will be essential for your business to use its corporate responsibility program to win customers. Publicize your workplace giving initiatives, post photos of volunteer days on social media, and create crowdfunding initiatives that let consumers get involved in your program directly. The CR differentiator you create will drive sales and customer loyalty.
Talent Acquisition and Employee Retention Hinge on Corporate Responsibility
Corporate responsibility is now key to employees’ job decisions. Engaging employees in CR initiatives halves employee turnover for the average organization,⁵ and the effect is particularly strong with younger generations. Seventy-five percent of millennials will take a pay cut to work for a company that’s responsible.⁶
This trend will only grow stronger as time goes on and millennials become a bigger part of the workforce, influencing their colleagues and other generations. As that shift intensifies, engaging in corporate responsibility will transition from being a nice-to-have perk to a crucial element in recruitment and retention efforts.
Businesses that advertise their corporate responsibility program as an employee benefit will have a major advantage in the job market in 2019. Employee matching gift programs, student loan forgiveness, and volunteering opportunities can all tip the scales as employees decide to work for your business or a competitor.
In addition to helping recruit and retain employees, corporate responsibility helps solve one of the biggest problems for companies: employee engagement.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report, 50 percent of employees are not engaged, with 20 percent of employees actively disengaged. These individuals cost the US economy between $483 billion and $605 billion each year. This leaves just 30 percent of employees that are engaged and, since engagement is closely linked to productivity, indicates only a minimum of employees are performing at top levels.⁷
Corporate responsibility can greatly improve employee engagement. Workers in the employ of responsible companies are more likely to be cooperative and productive.⁸ They’re also 50 percent more likely to hold leadership positions and 47 percent more likely to evangelize for your business.
By building a strong corporate responsibility program, you encourage employee engagement that translates into increased productivity, satisfaction, and advocacy that moves your brand forward. As top companies see the benefits of corporate responsibility and actively pursue it as an employee engagement strategy, they’ll gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Corporate Responsibility is Becoming a Major Business Driver
Corporate responsibility improves performance across the board, a result that will only become more pronounced as we move into 2019.
This is largely reflective of the times we live in. Millennials will make up half of the workforce by 2020,⁹ and they want to work for and purchase from companies with purpose and meaning. That trend is quickly moving through other key generations, influencing your entire workforce.
For your business to be successful, you must get ahead of the trend to meet the needs of your employees and customers. More and more, those needs revolve around corporate responsibility, making it a key component to financial and social success.
To set your business up for success in 2019, reevaluate your existing corporate responsibility initiatives (or lack thereof) consider the tools and workplace giving software you’re using, and how effective they are. If they’re not helping you make an impact in the market and engage your employees, start drafting a new plan that fits into your overall business strategy, driving ROI and competitive advantage.
Download the infographic to learn more benefits of corporate giving programs.