Corporate Social Good Reaches Beyond Employer Brand

employer brand, company culture, social good

This article is part of a series on the strategic impact corporate social good and social responsibility has on employers. Click here to catch part 2 in the series installment. 

Most people define “social good” as a good or service that benefits the largest number of people in the largest possible way. Some classic examples of social goods are clean air, clean water and literacy. We like doing good. We like recycling, helping those less fortunate and, as a consumer, buying products that give back to causes, charities and communities. We feel like we’re making an impact and a difference. It gives us that warm fuzzy feeling making us feel like as an individual or a group we made a difference. But “social good” in the context of the workplace is something completely different. It’s often called philanthropy or sustainability. It’s an organized and focused activity or group of activities around a cause or charity for employees to participate and be involved in.

What is Corporate Social Good?

Corporate social good helps unify entire organizations big and small around a cause, charity or program that aligns with the company’s larger mission and organizational goals. This is not unlike an employer brand which seeks to unify candidate marketing messaging around a campaign, slogan or organized tagline designed to elicit a positive and “good feeling” in your target candidate. I’m not saying that corporate social good programs are the same as employment branding. That’s not the case. Usually, your corporate social good program is a story you tell your customers, investors, community and certainly candidates.

It’s that warm fuzzy feeling we get when we participate in social good programs that make us become a part of something that’s bigger than us. As an employee, it’s something we are a part of that’s bigger than our job title, position or paycheck. Recent research tells us that’s exactly what Millennials want in an employer. Millenials want more from their employer than a paycheck. They want the 40+ hours a week they put into a job to really mean something. This isn’t just limited to Millennials, but they are more likely to walk away from an employer simply because a company’s philosophies and ideals don’t align with their own. I’m an X-er and I want to be a part of causes and communities that do good. Sometimes that is at my workplace, but a lot of time that’s outside of my work. It’s at my daughter’s school, working toward a cause that has personally impacted my life, or volunteering in the community where I live. It’s likely that Millennials don’t have a community outside of their office like I do, because mine is a combination of professional contacts and the relationships I’ve made as a result of my daughter. Millennials have their work and employer as the central focal point in their lives because they are just getting started.

Social Good Programs Are Critical to Employment Branding

As with any warm fuzzy feeling, social good is often extremely hard to quantify and define. That’s not unlike marketing and employment branding. It’s sometimes hard to align the impact that a marketing campaign has in terms of driving candidates to applications or the impact it has on employer review sites. It’s near impossible to tie employee engagement scores directly to any type of company perk even the unusual ones like “pawternity leave.” It’s hard to tie any program, marketing campaign or activity directly to recruiting efforts because most companies don’t track candidate source or assign a quality score to individual candidates. As recruiters and marketers, we are focused on measuring the social impact of our branding and recruitment marketing campaigns, but can only rely on an increase or decrease in candidates, social impressions, mentions and followers to measure and quantify engagement. But senior leaders want more data, metrics and evidence to connect the dots. The future of great employment branding programs is more than telling employee stories in the form of employee Q&A’s and photos filling your Snapchat and Instagram feed. It’s using employment branding to increase awareness of the impact the company is making through their social good efforts.

64% of candidates who rate their candidate exp positively say they'll continue their relationships w these employers Click To Tweet

The most recent Candidate Experience Report finds that 64% of candidates who rate their candidate experience positively say they’ll continue their relationships with these employers. Theses candidates, even when not hired, said they will apply for other jobs in the future, purchase from and refer others to their company. While this number is impressive, it’s a fuzzy metric that doesn’t specifically correlate to an increase in revenue or qualified candidates in your CRM.

Corporate social good campaigns establish clearly the importance and benefit that employer branding can bring to an organization. Salesforce created a focused social responsibility employer branding campaign (which by the way donated $137,000,000 in 2016). Imagine if employment branding could tie their campaigns to a 3% increase in employee or community donations. Imagine if that same campaign could show their marketing and branding work resulted in a 15% increase in volunteer hours. This could be huge for the organization. The positive impact they have on their charities and, more importantly, the community is a great story for them to share. It also creates opportunities for conversations about the perks and benefits that Salesforce can offer. One little-known benefit that could have a big impact on socially conscious candidates is the fact that Salesforce is not only matching employee contributions but offers PTO for the purposes of volunteering.

While we can’t all be like Salesforce, our social good and responsibility footprints can make a difference. But at the same time, we need to focus on aligning with corporate efforts in order to measure the real impact on the employer brand. We need effective ways to measure donations, volunteer hours and employee involvement, which means that companies will need to invest in the technology and tools that will make this possible.

This article is part of a series on the strategic impact corporate social good and social responsibility has on employers.  Click here to catch part 2 in the series installment. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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