The Power of the Helping Hand

Your employee well-being program is missing something. WE can say that with a fair degree of confidence because today even the most holistic well-being strategies rarely incorporate corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. We think that’s poised to change. Many studies have shown the benefits of employer-sponsored volunteerism and community involvement on employee physical and mental health. And, importantly, a comprehensive CSR program can enhance recruitment and retention efforts and improve your company’s bottom line.

 It’s been well-established that volunteering improves mental and physical health. Helping others and giving back make us feel good. The social interaction that comes with volunteering can also decrease the risk of depression and alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Volunteering can be physical in nature as well, so integrating opportunities to serve the community in physically active ways in your CSR can have a positive influence on employees’ physical health and promote healthier lifestyles. A strong CSR program can enhance the social, emotional, and physical health of your employees, while improving the communities in which they live.

Many organizations see employee well-being as central to their business objectives, and rely on well-being initiatives to create a happy, empowered and engaged workforce. However, data suggest just 52% of organizations believe their employees actually are highly engaged at work. Could CSR push that number higher? Adding to the case, the younger workforce is increasingly seeking out socially responsible employers: 64% of Millennials will reject a job offer if the company does not have a strong CSR program, and Gen-Z is the first generation that will prioritize a company’s purpose over the salary they offer. The demographic trends mean that going forward, attracting and retaining the best talent is going to require more than your standard benefits. Employees are looking for opportunities to engage in and support the social issues for which they are most passionate. Employers that provide a platform for social activism will attract high-potential new hires who are looking for ways to engage.

Beyond the benefits to your organization and your own employees, there are the benefits to communities. New research stresses the importance of businesses supporting the local community: investing in employees’ health will be less impactful if employees live in unhealthy communities. Quantifying the monetary value of volunteering can illustrate the impact of a significant company contribution to the local community and help garner support from internal and external stakeholders.

While there are many projects competing for time and resources, it’s well worth considering how social responsibility aligns with your strategic goals and whether you should prioritize it going forward. If you expect to have more employees working remotely in the post-pandemic world, CRS might offer an important avenue to build engagement with this population. But a comprehensive well-being program that incorporates an effective CSR platform provides a means for all employees to try new things, reenergize, and build connections. As we cope with the long tail of the pandemic, this will be more important than ever.

Whitney Bickford
by Whitney Bickford

Associate, Mercer's Center for Health Innovation

Nick Schram
by Nick Schram

Principal, Mercer's Center for Health Innovation

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