Kamel Mellahi: Involve employees in CSR communication

Kamel Mellahi

When it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication, employers should complement top-down communication with bottom-up communication.

The communication strategy should reflect employee engagement and participation in CSR initiatives. Employers should encourage their employees to contribute to the CSR strategy, as well as share experiences.

Employers must be very straightforward and honest about the motives behind, and outcomes of, their CSR initiatives. Whenever possible, employers should communicate tangible outcomes of their CSR initiatives.

Internal CSR communication is at the core of successful CSR strategies. There is strong research evidence that effective CSR communication has a positive impact on employee outcomes, from attracting and retaining talent, to employee motivation and commitment and high job satisfaction.

The alignment between CSR communication internally and employee benefits is likely to amplify the positive outcomes. Alignment between the organisation’s CSR strategy and employee benefits may encourage employees to become active in CSR implementation, become CSR champions and subsequently increase their loyalty and commitment to the organisation.

This said, excessive CSR communication is counterproductive and may do more harm than good. Also, employees may view CSR initiatives negatively if they see their benefits packages deteriorating. CSR should complement rather compromise employee benefit packages.

Kamel Mellahi is professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School