Five years ago, a company might have been able to get by with defining its corporate social responsibility program by making a commitment to recycling, establishing a corporate foundation and offering an employee matching gifts program. But that won’t work today because consumer and employee demand for CSR is climbing, steadily and rapidly. Employers aren’t keeping up with internal and external markets.

Consider:

  • 88 percent of young job seekers choose employers based on strong CSR values. That’s data from a study released earlier this year. A similar 2006 study found that 79 percent of young job seekers look at a company’s social responsibility program when deciding where to work.
  • 86 percent of young employees would consider leaving if the company’s CSR values no longer met their expectations. That’s the 2012 statistic. In 2006, that percentage was only 56. A dramatic increase, in only six years!
  • The average employee participation in a corporate matching gifts program, one of the most popular CSR tools, is just 7 percent.

Employers are not offering the social responsibility programs that employees want. The gap between what employees want and what employers are providing spells trouble for companies who hope to retain and attract key talent. Certainly that is a risk too great for any savvy employer to tolerate, especially considering that the cost of replacing an employee can run between 30 and 400 percent of the employee’s annual salary. That is why it is worth leveraging CSR, taking a strategic approach to talent management. A strategic approach can reduce employee turnover rate by an average of forty percent.

What can an employer do? An employer must address the CSR gap, immediately, starting by defining social responsibility in a way that actually engages employees, weaving together employee engagement activities with social responsibility activities so that the company maximizes its investment in each.