HR Needs To Wake Up To CSR

By Suresh Kr Pramar

Business houses in India are reportedly facing problems attracting and retaining talent. According to a survey conducted by the biggest challenge facing Human Resource Managers is talent acquisition and employee engagement. A majority of employees interviewed said that they were not going to stay with their present jobs for more than one year.

While attracting talent was growing increasingly difficult HR was also facing difficulties in employee engagement programmes. The Survey reveals that there is a growing communication gap between HR and the workers/employees. Though HR Managers claim that they have an open

line of communication with the employees barely a third of the employees agreed that this was a fact.

The survey results are in tune with ground realities. Reports suggest  that all over the country there is a growing distrust between the workers/employees and the HR administration and management. Events at the Maruti’s Manesar factory are still fresh in mind where a HR manager was killed. Similar incidents have been reported from other parts of the country. A majority of the units that have suffered are those set up by multi- national companies.

There are two major reasons for the problems facing HR managers. One is that HR Manager have not been able to move away from their traditional roles and reorient themselves to meet the challenges of global change. HR Managers have failed to build trust among the employees. In almost all companies across India employees/workers feel that HR Managers are ‘Yes MEN/Women’ of the management.

Top managements are equally to blame. Most companies, even while professing to practice Corporate Social Responsibility and Responsible Business, have failed to create conditions within the organization which will encourage, present and prospective, employees feel that they are a responsible company. They have failed to create Trust among the employees/workers. The survey result strongly point to the fact that companies have failed to live up to their professed CSR Policy.

Surveys in India have indicated that employees have lost trust in the company management leadership. One survey has indicated that only three out of ten employees said that their company has good management leadership. International studies indicate that responsible companies enjoyed strong employee trust. These organizations are focused on the retention of key employees and customers.

With the growing popularity of Corporate Social Responsibility, sustainable and inclusive  development employees prefer to work for a company which is genuinely responsible, caring and one that lives up to the letter and spirit of its declared CSR Policy. Companies which govern with an ethical, transparent and accountable mandate are able to attract and retain talent. Most companies surveyed evidently have a CSR policy but have failed to imbibe the CSR Culture within the organization, its management and employees HR Experts across the western world stress on the need for HR Managers to develop a new mind set which will help create trust among the employees.

Says Elaine Cohen, a HR CSR Expert “ HR Managers are preoccupied with their traditional roles of organizational development, recruitment, training and compensation and are failing to see the opportunities that CSR brings to them as professionals. For Human Resource professionals to become true and valued business partners, a fundamental understanding of CSR and its interface with their function is essential. CSR Managers must wake up to CSR and start learning how to do things differently.”

“Business strategy is developing into a strategy based on sustainability. This has been driving practices for the past five years but has bypassed the HR function altogether,” she says. “Few senior HR people are involved in developing CSR strategy, while HR managers do not understand the broader implications of CSR for the HR function. It must understand sustainability in order to be an adequate, supportive and effective business partner. ”

A recent poll from HR Magazine, ranking the top three benefits of corporate social responsibility in the workplace, showed staff retention, attracting the best talent and increasing motivation and engagement received the most votes. TCS, an international resourcing communications agency in the U.K., reports that nearly 30 percent of people would compromise salary to work for a company with a good corporate social responsibility policy. Almost half (44 percent) of those surveyed said an organization’s corporate responsibility policy was likely or very likely to affect their choice to apply for a job with that organization.

The story is clear. ‘The corporate responsibility movement is intersecting with talent management. The vocabulary of HR professionals and talent leaders is woven throughout, and those charged with talent management initiatives must create the connections, fill-in-the dots and piggyback policies in order to tap into the power corporate responsibility has to affect recruiting, engaging and retaining employees. Organizations without a corporate responsibility policy may want to propose one now in order to benefit from a demonstrated competitive advantage.’

CSR plays a critical role  in enhancing a company’s reputation among its own employees, subsequently boosting their motivation and engagement Most companies. CSR should dictate the way the company operates across the board and employees should truly feel empowered to get involved in relevant initiatives. A comprehensive CSR policy can contribute to the development of employees and ensuring they are proud of the company they work for and are motivated to perform at their best.

Time for HR Managers in India to take the call.

Suresh Kr Pramar is an Executive Director at Centre for Training & Research In Responsible Business. He is a regular contributor to INDIACSR.