Recently I was asked to give my view on a dilemma that is becoming more and more common place in the business world around corporate social responsibility. How can a company be an investor in it’s people or it’s environment & still see a tangible return on their investment.
Now there are many ways that this can take place, some companies invest directly into their workforce by reducing the carbon footprint of their daily travel. Also by creating on-site nursery facilities to help their working mums with flexible working hours in work or from home. Giving back to the workforce with this genuine approach tends to increases staff loyalty & pride, thus boosting company productiveness & efficiency.
An excellent example of investing ‘man hours & capital’ came to my attention just last week during my visit to the heart of India’s booming economic & political Capital Delhi. My cousin works for American Express India; her commitment, loyalty & productivity were second to none. So I asked her ” why is it that you so happily invest your personal time and mind after hours? Immediately she reeled me off a list of changes that Amex had made internally to allow the staff to work more hours safely. They had invested in a transportation system that collected and dropped off all the staff at no extra cost for the late workers ( by this I mean starting work at noon till 11pm some days). They have even taken indian social family constraints & requirements by having an Amex employed guard in the car if there is a lady being transported to & from work, followed by a call to check that they have arrived home safely! This clearly shows that the corporate giant Amex has identified the tangible benefits in invested directly into the staff; researching & adopting local travel challenges & family safety fears of late night driving.
This has most certainly paid off, as she has such high regards for the company and it’s principles toward employee needs. Working flexible hours to meet the World times of others offices in UK, USA, Japan and even Austrailia. After going to sleep at 11pm she willingly wakes up at an unheard time of 3am (india time) to accommodate the American offices! Yes even after a full 11 hr day! Now this is what I call dedication to the job! When I questioned her about her schedule and unbelievable time commitments she said ” I really enjoy working at Amex as they listen to ‘us’ by valuing & respecting my decision to work from home once a week; the company is really flexible as long as you get the work done on time.” Now when I say working from home, I don’t mean a day off…. She is so dedicated to the job that she plans the day off in advance to ensure that she produces more work than an office day!! 1
With such a simple outsourced commitment accommodating local family traditions & views, Amex has gained a workforce that wants to work there and is proud to say that they are a part of a team. The sales team are regularly motivated with achievable targets and are given well Researched perks, which keep them talking about the brand values to other propective clients. This in turn encourages staff input into processes that keep ongoing ownership of the changes high.
Other companies that take a practical but dispassionate approach by possibly investing in high profile charities that may not directly help the workforce tend to Create Pr ‘brownie points’ giving them a positive national profile. Sales may go up in stores & contracts may get won along the way, but staff morale may not get the same boost that the investing in staff approach gets.
The third kind of organisation creates a public affiliation with a charity that is close to heart of both staff and directors. A client of one of our Audio companies said that he was so happy that their transport companies was backing the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. As the company MD had a child cared for there. The staff have great pride and honour in supporting such a Nobel cause. The staff are whole heartedly encouraged to visit the children as often as possible knowing that they have made a difference in the lives of others. ’Giving back’ with this approach creates a feeling of fulfilment within the organisation thus amplifying performance with pride, satisfaction & humility.
An author & friend of mine ‘Edd Walker’ often says “a man is not living unless he is not loving” which I added to by saying “& a man is not loving unless he is giving.”. Some how I Feel that this could be relevant In the corporate organisations of today & the productivity of their staff. A company that comes to mind with the above quote is the Apple Corporation, which the late Steve Jobs masterminded to a world following for both consumers & staff. His love of innovation & passion for his products & workforce redefined how a company could and maybe should be run. This energy and belonging that is created by being a part of Apple has clearly passed on to the customers by the staff which has resulted in a loyalty & following that may never be equalled in our lifetime…
By Sukhi Wahiwala Sikh Business Entrepreneur