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Corporate Social Responsibility is not as Important to Your Potential Hires as You Think

By Universum on 23/04/2019

Earth Day was yesterday, and with environmental well-being on our minds, and media buzzing with related content, it is inevitable that our thoughts here at Universum lead back to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As an environmentalist, I am encouraged by all the companies I see in the market focusing on their CSR. But unfortunately, your candidates don’t care about this as much as you might think they do.

CSR has become a go-to brand strategy across industries in the United States and Canada. Consumer trends increasingly reflect sustainability concerns and companies are responding accordingly. The world is seeing positive impact as environmental, social, and economic causes receive ample awareness and subsidies. With the success of sustainability initiatives on consumer awareness and perception, we must ask:

Is CSR strategy effective for recruiting and employer branding?

The answer is not as straightforward as it is in business-to-consumer branding. Talent does care about the ethical behavior of its future employer, as seen in a recent study by Deloitte, reporting that “51% of employees do not want to work for a company that does not have a strong social or environmental commitment.”

Concurrently, Universum’s most recent US and Canada data reports indicate that when considering ideal employers, talent does not weigh CSR as a determining factor past brand awareness. This data is invaluable. Universum surveys young talent across fields of study from a breadth of universities, publishing annual global reports as well as regional and country-specific, to understand which employer attributes prospective employees care most about, why, and when. CSR is one of the employer attributes in Canada and the US that consistently performs lower than more personal ones that have more effect on young talent’s stability, daily lives, and career growth.

CSR is successful in gaining brand awareness and building a reputation as an ethical company, but when prospective employees are seriously evaluating job opportunities they drastically favour employer attributes that will more personally affect them, particularly “high future earnings,” “leaders who will support [their] development,” and “secure employment,” as seen in data collected by Universum.

This disparity between CSR in marketing toward consumers versus potential hires generates a dilemma: Creating an employer value proposition (EVP) that remains authentic to the company’s CSR-heavy consumer image while shifting its employer branding focus to more significant talent acquisition attributes.

So how should organizations use CSR in recruitment? Universum is well-versed in helping companies navigate this quandary. While the messaging mix balance and strategy will vary by client, below are four ubiquitous guidelines:

  1. Highlight CSR at the right times.

CSR is more powerful later in the recruitment cycle. At this point in their career shopping, students are at the decision stage and typically digging past the veneer. If they are still considering you this is when they might be looking more deeply into your reputation so that they can be proud to share who they are considering with their friends and family. This is when CSR may become more important.

  1. Explain the direct impact on employee experience.

Personal and relevant CSR messaging is key. Potential hires care more about what their day-to-day at your company will entail than what the world needs improved upon. If talent sees CSR messaging that has no direct upshot for them, even if you’re attracting them to your company as a customer, you may not be helping your employer brand at all.

  1. Do not CSR “Spam”

CSR communications should supplement your EB strategy, not steal attention. Many companies focus too heavily on CSR, to the detriment of their other attractive attributes. It often confuses talent about what they stand to gain from your company as an employer, blurring your EVP core.

  1. Measure success, listen to feedback.

Feedback is your friend. Conduct surveys and even focus groups to see what your targeted talent is responding to positively and negatively. Understand how and when your CSR messaging is working or not. Be open-minded to flexibility and altering your strategy accordingly.

Corporate social responsibility is a noble initiative for any company to take. However it is critical that employer branding teams understand their audience has different concerns than their company’s consumer targets. Crafting a successful EVP requires understanding how to balance CSR communications with EVP attributes that hold fundamental employer branding consequence. Of course, it can be beneficial for an organization to touch on CSR in its talent acquisition, but it is critical to understand how and when to correctly align it with the recruitment cycle.

Universum is the global leader in employer branding. Find more information and contact us here.

Universum is the global leader in employer branding. Our services include actionable researchstrategic advisorydata-driven communication and social media solutions for talent branding, sourcing, and analytics. A trusted partner to over 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. We work with over 2,000 universities, alumni groups, and professional organizations to gather insights from students and professionals in order to advise employers on how to attract and retain talent that fits their culture and purpose. On an annual basis, Universum surveys over 1,000,000 students and professionals worldwide.