Coro’s Blog: On Purpose

Social Sustainability Roadmap 1st Stop – Employee Relations

Published on March 8, 2013

A series on CSR as a poverty reduction strategy & social innovation tool

The first stop on the Social Sustainability Roadmap is employee relations. Why? Because engaged employees contribute to company and community success. A well-structured employee relations program can contribute not only to your company’s well-being but also to the overall health of the community in which you operate.

Research I conducted on the business case for sustainability confirms that corporate social responsibility (CSR) /sustainability is a top driver of employee engagement and that there is a tight link between CSR and workplace productivity. So it’s not much of a leap to understand that engaged employees contribute to firm value.

How that contributes to community health I’ll explain later. But first, here are some of the essential elements of healthy employee relations. In addition to CSR, employees want a fair, respectful, healthy and democratic workplace that values their participation. Specifically they care about:

  • Pace of work and work stress
  • Opportunities for input
  • Job security
  • Work-life balance
  • Workplace relationships
  • Individual development
  • Physical working conditions

Consideration of these needs contributes to healthy employee relations, which in turn can benefit your business with:

  • Reduced turnover and recruitment costs
  • Reduced absenteeism, injuries and disability costs and lower fines and insurance premiums
  • Larger talent pool and more unsolicited applications

Employers who treat their employees well can outperform their peers in customer satisfaction, revenue growth and overall profitability.

I’ve noticed in my work with clients that the HR department is not always engaged and the executive team often doesn’t understand why employee relations or employee well-being is included in CSR. I find it helps to engage with HR directly and share with HR managers a framework I developed on the “CSR-HR” connection.

Once your company “gets” the HR-CSR connection, you can begin to build the employee well-being pillar of your strategy. You’ll want to identify top employee priorities such as:

  • Work-life balance
  • Health and safety
  • Employee diversity

An emerging area of focus for employers is the “living wage,” as I profiled in an earlier post. Companies that adopt a living wage policy, and that require their suppliers to do so, will play a direct role in reducing child poverty and poor educational attainment. This helps break the pattern of future job insecurity, under-employment and poor health. By offering wages that cover basic living costs, an organization can better attract employees, reduce turnover and absenteeism and build the firm’s community reputation.

A robust employee relations program, as part of your social sustainability plan, will enhance not only employee well-being, but also family welfare and, by extension, the community quality of life. These are just some of the positive social benefits your company can foster through your direct operations.

For more information see: Employee Relations on the Social Sustainability Roadmap.

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