Experience has an amazing amount of effect and stimulation in thinking in developing strategic direction and activity plans in the area of corporate culture and CSR (sort-of) programs. Experience provides a un-written benchmark of what can be done, what can’t and what new ideas can be implemented. Of course, in that bag of experience also comes a fair share of “yessirs” and “nosirs”! But let me carry on, lest I digress from the topic….
Many local (national with regional operations) organisations who are spreading their operations across geographical boundaries, evaluate operational risks and revenue and decide on the venture. Whilst a lot of high financial risk areas are evaluated and strategic scenario planning undertaken, a key area of how the brand and a newly hired (not familiar with the brand) employee interacts or will interact is an area oft left out of the decision-making process.
Though the entire interview process would be scientific and evaluatory oriented, the first day of the employee and the first internal brand experience is an area that I’ve noticed most organisations do not even think about or develop a program/routine/guide.
I remember my first day (at a particular multinational advertising agency). Having worked at MNC’s (multi-national companies) all through before,what I experienced was nothing different. In fact it was expected, in order for me to perform, effectively as a senior manager from day 2 at my role. The first day was a fully planned, hour by hour, schedule of activities that left me fully enthused with the ‘corporate brand” and pre-disposed towards doing my best to uphold the brand’s promise (towards my clients).
Recalling this experience recently for another organisation (during a discussion with their COO regarding how employees are the main resource for a corporate) made me ask the above question— Is CSR always an external focussed activity only OR can the objective of such a program be internal and yet it be CSR?
After all a brand’s employees are its immediate representatives and users, in the overall eco-system of the brand. Through the employees the brand reaches out to its other stakeholders. Therefore, can a simple employee orientation program be also a “CSR” program?
IE:by developing certain benefits for the employee (car parking, flexi hours, recreational facilities, supporting personal development related activities) can a brand get a stronger ‘bonding and thus engagement and pre-disposition’ towards itself?
Thereby, possibly motivating the employee in the process too and being beneficial to him/her.
Possibly, such line of thinking, will be termed as either “ridiculous’ OR “what the heck are you thinking on this for. Leave it to HR”!
BUT jumping forward, if a program is developed aimed at benefitting the employee socially i.e. in terms of overall personal development, then:
A) The organisations PR team has a field day in getting additional mileage for the brand by having a new angle to get talk about.
B) The company internal communication can highlight, possible, “groups” of such social activities in order to foster “brand communities” and thereby have another potential marketing avenue for dialogues with other stakeholders (of the brand).
C) And lastly this could lead to extremely strong employee commitment to the brand ie loyalty.
In sum, a win-win for all– the company, the brand and the employee. Most importantly, the high level of loyalty generated would drive the company simply because it would have a very motivated, loyal and most importantly, “thinking” employees.