Guest Post: Jill Perardi, Visix
With millennials now the dominate group in the workforce, organizations are looking at what makes them tick – what they expect, what gets them engaged, and what encourages them to stick around at a job for longer than a year.
One of the things this group says is very important to them is to work for companies that show corporate social responsibility (CSR). This is more than just doling out money to charities at Christmas – it’s a constant process, part of the ongoing corporate culture and values.
In large part because this is such a priority to millennials, in recent years we have seen a rise in corporate social initiatives. Companies benefit because they not only help worthy causes, but also present a public image that is more in line with modern expectations and definitions of what is “good.”
They get more media coverage, can attract investors through these initiatives and, perhaps most importantly, engage their employees, making them happier and seeing dramatic increases in productivity and better retention. This generation puts a lot of emphasis on reputation – no surprise for people who grew up liking social media posts, rating businesses, restaurants, books and films online, and tracking how many views their newest photo or video is getting.
There are other benefits, as well. Having a positive image can make recruiting the best and brightest to the organization easier, and many companies do things that directly affect their local communities, weaving them into the social fabric of the place where they are physically located. You give back to get back, as the saying goes.
CSR is more than just giving money to causes – it positively affects that way the company does business and interacts with the public at large. It also infuses the internal culture, boosting morale and helping create a positive feeling throughout all levels of the organization. Some companies encourage volunteerism and individual philanthropy, or have comprehensive and meaningful sustainability programs.
There are many strategies out there for developing and maintaining CSR. Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s annual Best Corporate Citizens List showcases 100 of these every year. Forbes and JUST Capital release another list each year of 100 companies that treat their workers the best. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) recently published a Social Justice Toolkit that lets organizations assess how they are doing in CSR.
The reasons for having a good CSR strategy are myriad, and the main reason is it’s a good thing to do. But if people don’t know about an organization’s CSR efforts, then many of the benefits are lost, and it’s harder to expand existing efforts or add new elements. This is where digital signage can help.
Digital signs can advertise your CSR mission, goals and initiatives across the company to both employees and visitors. You can use the signs to promote various events, campaigns and causes so everyone in your organization knows what you stand for and what you support. You can use your static digital signs to deliver messages and reminders, but you might want to go further by offering touchscreens that allow people to delve deeper into your strategies.
Consider interactive directories – dense amounts of information organized by sortable lists, sometimes going several levels deep, accessed using interactive touchscreens. This is an easy way to present a lot of information in a compact, self-service format (much like a website). Organizations have used these to show personnel listings and bios, donor boards, hall of fame boards, and room and event directories. It can also be used to create what we might call a Corporate Social Responsibility board.
Interactive CSR Board
What would such a thing look like for an organization? Let’s look at some possibilities for a company we’ll call Acme. On a touchscreen or kiosk, there would be a start screen with various “buttons” to navigate through various categories – each button leading to a new page (just like a website).
For example, one of the categories on the first screen might be Donations – users touch that button and see a new page with all of the companies, nonprofits and charities Acme has donated to so far this year, with additional buttons for pop-ups showing total previous contributions from the company. There could even be another screen with potential recipients, and users could vote for who should receive donations (each candidate page could show a brief description of what they do and why Acme thinks they’re worthy, with further links to that organization’s own website).
When it comes to financial contributions, Acme might also have a matching donations system for certain worthy causes – for every $5 an employee donates to a charity, Acme will also give $5. Acme further simplifies this process by making an opt-in form available for employees on the CSR Board. Everyone can see progress to goals with a nice visual chart that updates in real-time on the screen.
Another button on the home screen might be Volunteerism. This section could include a listing of opportunities to volunteer in the local community, policies about paid time off for volunteering, and instructions on how to apply for each program. Another button could give information on volunteer days in which the entire company pitches in helping a local organization (building a new playground for a local K-12 school, blood drives, etc.).
A CSR board could also advertise Grants – employees could apply for grants (say up to $3000) for charities they feel are deserving or they are involved with regularly. For example, Josephine, an employee at Acme, volunteers at a local homeless shelter and applies for a grant on their behalf to get new blankets, clothing and a plumber to fix the old showers there. She uses the touchscreen to fill in her request, which gets emailed to a CSR representative for review and follow-up.
Acme can even gamify its CSR efforts. There can be prizes for employees or departments who donate the most time in a year volunteering. Progress can be shown using graphs on all digital signs throughout the facility, making it a friendly race to see who can do the most in the shortest time, with real tangible benefits for causes the employees care about.
Sustainability can be another button on the home screen, and detailed information about recycling programs (including stats on how much paper, ink, etc. is being saved by Acme every month/year) can be displayed, as well as tips for reducing Acme’s carbon footprint. Energy dashboards can be displayed on the CSR board and facility-wide digital signs, showing things like power and water consumption, with information updated in real time shwoing progress towards certain targets.
There’s really no end to the variety of Corporate Social Responsibility an organization can incorporate into their culture and daily routine. Leveraging straightforward technologies like digital signs and interactive designs can get the word out about these efforts and even facilitate participation.
Just try an imagine working for the fictional company Acme, with all of these amazing opportunities available and supported from the top. How motivating and inspiring would that be to you as an employee? How engaged would you be in furthering the company’s culture and values? With a well-planned CSR strategy that’s transparent and inclusive, you would probably feel very motivated indeed.