How Can an Employer Incentivize Social Responsibility?

How Can an Employer Incentivize Social Responsibility?

At an all-company meeting last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company was retooling its employee bonus system to reflect a new set of priorities, focused on addressing the controversies surrounding the social media giant concerning the proliferation of hate speech and misinformation on its platform. In addition to traditional metrics like user growth and product quality, Facebook will reward employees this year based on their success at promoting the social good including combating fake accounts, protecting users’ safety, and making progress on other social issues affected by Facebook and the internet in general.

The decision to reward employees for doing social good reflects a challenge that many companies, particularly large corporations with major public profiles, are facing today. Investors, politicians, the media, and consumers are paying more attention than ever before to the social, environmental, and ethical consequences of what businesses do. And Facebook is not alone in this desire, for example, Chevron recently announced that it would tie executive compensation to reductions in the energy corporation’s greenhouse gas emissions. This dynamic, in turn, puts more pressure on corporate leaders to deliver sustainability and social responsibility as well as growth.

For Facebook, awarding bonuses to employees for meeting social responsibility goals will inevitably test the company’s ability to live up to two truisms: “actions speak louder than words,” and “what gets measured gets done.” To the first point, companies can articulate all the values they want, but at the end of the quarter or fiscal year, what matters is whether the organization actually lived up to those values in its day-to-day business practices. We’ve seen companies attempt to project an image of social responsibility, only to get called out for not really reflecting that image in their work. The impact of Facebook’s new policy will take time to fully materialize, but when it pays out bonuses for 2019, investors and reporters will be curious to see whether they have really rewarded the kind of choices they say they intend to, and whether those rewards reflect a real change.

As to the second point, Facebook has set itself an ambitious goal of identifying quantifiable metrics by which to determine progress against its goals of social good. Facebook has acknowledged that there is no easy or obvious formula for doing this, but they are looking at targets like number of fake accounts shut down daily or improvements to safety and security as possible metrics. Being a data-driven company, Facebook will likely get more granular and detailed about how it defines success, especially with both the media and governments paying closer and closer attention.

Here are four things that any company considering a similar change should be ready to do to make it more likely that an incentive program like this will be successful:

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Get Employees Engaged, Not Just Involved, in Corporate Social Responsibility

Get Employees Engaged, Not Just Involved, in Corporate Social Responsibility

As the year draws to a close, many companies—such as Merck, Xerox, and JCPenney—are publishing their corporate social responsibility reports for 2017, highlighting the CSR activities they have undertaken this year and how they relate to the organization’s overall goals. In judging the impact of a CSR initiative, companies should consider not only how these efforts impact their community, improve organizational sustainability, and advance diversity and inclusion, but also what they mean to employees and customers.

When it comes to employees, candidates today are particularly interested in working for companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to social responsibility, so CSR investments can have a direct benefit in terms of attracting talent. The most innovative companies, however, are designing CSR initiatives that fulfill employees’ demand for volunteer opportunities while also drawing on their professional skills and interests to make that volunteer work more engaging and potentially valuable.

Companies commonly offer opportunities for employees to engage in simple volunteer tasks such as packing boxes of aid for needy households, serving food at a soup kitchen, or cleaning up a public park. These are all valuable acts of community service, but the companies that are having the most success getting employees involved in CSR initiatives are offering them more dynamic and engaging ways to give back.

Here are some of those companies and their methods:

Deloitte partners with nonprofits on projects to provide pro bono consulting or advice, allowing employees to use their professional skills and knowledge to help these organizations have a stronger impact.

Dell uses their Youth Learning program to give underserved youth around the world better access to technology opportunities, including through employees volunteering with nonprofit partners.

Time Warner sponsors employees who participate in public fundraising events such as the Bronx Zoo’s Run for the Wild, and gives out an annual award honoring employees who have made exceptional contributions to public service.

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Nonprofits Competing with Socially Conscious Corporations for Purpose-Driven Talent

Nonprofits Competing with Socially Conscious Corporations for Purpose-Driven Talent

The 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, published recently by Nonprofit HR, shows how the nonprofit sector is being affected by the tight market for talent in the US and the growth of social enterprise organizations as a competitor in that market. Overall, the survey finds, the nonprofit hiring market is robust, with half of the 420 US and Canadian nonprofits it surveyed saying they planned to add staff in 2017. That figure declined by seven percentage points from 2016, however, whereas corporate hiring expanded, which the report attributes “at least in part to the growth of social enterprise and purpose-driven business.” In other words, the candidates who would normally seek out jobs at nonprofits are being attracted instead to socially conscientious for-profit businesses.

As the millennial generation has grown up to become the largest segment of today’s workforce, this generation’s values and interests are significantly influencing the way employers engage candidates and employees. Millennials do have a particularly strong interest in making a difference in the world, with a recent survey finding that 75 percent of US workers between the ages of 18 and 34 expect their employer to take positions on social issues affecting the country. Yet even though millennials may be driving the trend of a purpose-driven workforce, these interests are not unique to them.

Despite facing increasingly stiff competition, most nonprofits are not taking steps to improve their recruiting, talent management, and culture practices, the Nonprofit HR survey shows. 64 percent of organizations said they had no formal recruitment strategy, while the number that said they did has been declining over the past two years. Additionally, 70 percent have no dedicated recruiting budget, 69 percent have not engaged in an employment branding process, 81 percent have no formal retention strategy, and 52 percent do not have a diversity and inclusion strategy.

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Glassdoor: Most Millennials Expect Employers to Take Stands on Social Issues

Glassdoor: Most Millennials Expect Employers to Take Stands on Social Issues

A whopping 75 percent of US workers between the ages of 18 and 34 expect their employer to take positions on social issues affecting the country, such as civil rights, immigration, and climate change, a new survey from Glassdoor finds:

Furthermore, nearly four in five (84 percent) U.S. workers believe companies have an important voice in proposed legislation, regulation and executive orders that could affect the employer’s business or the lives of employees. …

The Glassdoor survey reveals that employees expect employer engagement on timely political and social issues. “Today’s informed candidates want to work for companies that are actively engaged on topics that directly impact their lives and align with their beliefs,” said Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor chief reputation officer and senior vice president of global corporate affairs. “Today’s candidates, especially younger job seekers, want to work at companies that take a stand and take action.”

These findings echo another study released earlier in the year, in which a majority of millennials said they thought CEOs and other business leaders should play an activist role and take public positions on social issues. CEOs are taking notice of this generational change: At the Fortune and Time CEO Initiative conference on Monday, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini remarked on how the millennial generation was changing the role of the CEO:

According to Nooyi, one factor is a changing workforce, which is now heavily populated with millennial workers who want their employers to embrace social issues. “They no longer look at is as [just] a paycheck,” she said. “They look at it as ‘How can I go to work and make a difference in society?’” The Pepsi CEO said that part of a chief executive’s duty today is to ensure that a company’s business goals align with initiatives that make a positive difference in the world. “We had to weave purpose into the core business model of the company,” Nooyi said. …

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Older Employees Value Meaningful Jobs—Just Like Everyone Else

Older Employees Value Meaningful Jobs—Just Like Everyone Else

The latest American Working Conditions Survey from the RAND Corporation highlights the finding that most US retirees would take advantage of an opportunity to return to work, and that retirement-age employees opt to remain in the workforce not so much because they can’t afford to retire, but because they enjoy working—especially as they report having more meaningful work and more flexibility in their jobs than their younger co-workers. Steve Vernon explores the study’s findings at CBS Moneywatch:

The AWCS found that more than two-thirds of older men and women reported satisfaction with work well done and felt they were doing useful work. Prime-age women reported about the same level of satisfaction, but only a little more than half of prime-age men reported these same levels of satisfaction.

Older workers are also more likely than prime-age workers to say they apply their own ideas and solve unforeseen problems, and they’re less likely to report that they perform monotonous tasks. Older workers are also more likely to report workplace flexibility than their younger peers. College graduates in particular are more than twice as likely to determine their own work schedules as their younger counterparts are.

Older workers do also have practical rationales for delaying retirement, the survey found: Doing so allows them to delay when they start collecting Social Security benefits, which increases their expected lifetime payout. Older workers may also choose to stay at work for the health insurance benefits they receive from their employer, which reduce their out-of-pocket health care costs (the largest expense for retirees), or to participate in workplace wellness programs that help keep them in good health.

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At Some Companies, the Chance to Give Back Is a Perk

At Some Companies, the Chance to Give Back Is a Perk

Many companies try to attract and retain talent with creative, innovative benefits that have special meaning to their business, reflect their values, or respond to the specific needs and interests of their employees. Employees today—not only millennials—are particularly driven by a sense of purpose and the desire to do meaningful work, and some employers are responding to that desire by giving them opportunities to volunteer or put their skills to work for the public good.

IBM, for example, has launched a series of pro bono programs through which it lends employees out to humanitarian projects, letting them apply their coding, engineering, or management skills to solving social challenges throughout the world. Ben Paynter profiled IBM’s initiative at Fast Company last month:

Since 2008, Corporate Service has sent at least 3,500 workers to projects in 40 counties. Projects include working with Coders4Africa in Senegal to provide programmers business training along with technical skills, a disabled rights group in India to open business processing centers that could create more jobs, and finding ways to boost donations and the distribution range of food banks in Latin America. …

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Netflix Updates Its Famous Culture Document with Focus on Inclusion and Respect

Netflix Updates Its Famous Culture Document with Focus on Inclusion and Respect

Netflix’s manifesto on its organizational culture, created by the company’s former chief talent officer Patty McCord and first published as a slide presentation in 2009, has been viewed over 16 million times, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg once praised it as “the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.” On Wednesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company had revised and updated the document “seeking to clarify the many points on which people have had questions.”

The new version of Netflix’s manifesto is given a new format—10 pages of prose as opposed to a 120-slide deck—and according to Hastings, “reflects the emphasis we put on global thinking and inclusiveness, and maintains our joy of working with stunning colleagues.” The new document, which is worth taking the time to read in full, contains many of the same principles that made the original deck so influential: Netflix’s commitment to employee excellence as expressed through behaviors like judgment, curiosity, courage, passion, and innovation.

One key change is the addition of “inclusion” to Netflix’s list of core values, exemplified by employees who “collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures,” “nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions,” and “recognize we all have biases, and work to grow past them.” Another change is that the value of “honesty” is now described as “integrity” instead and stresses the need for respect, in addition to candor and directness: Employees are now explicitly directed to “treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you.” Additionally, the new document spells out Netflix’s approach to parental leave: Much like its unlimited, untracked vacation policy, new parents are “encouraged to take whatever time they feel is right in the first year.”

Variety’s senior Silicon Valley correspondent Janko Roettgers parses the new blueprint and pulls out some key takeaways of his own:

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