Being a good corporate citizen has always been the right thing to do. But, let's be honest: many companies haven't viewed making their communities better places to live as part of their core missions.
Now, however, practicing corporate social responsibility (CSR) isn't something companies have the luxury of doing only when they feel like it. These days, CSR is a necessity. Stated simply, our employees and our residents are demanding it.
According to the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, 91 percent of millennials would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality. Additionally, 63 percent of millennial women and 45 percent of millennial men say their decisions about job offers are impacted by the employer's CSR work, according to the Six-Month Research Update to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, a study conducted by Achieve.
So what should a meaningful CSR program look like at your property management company? In summary, it entails much more than a company making periodic charitable donations, although such donations are certainly praiseworthy. True CSR is an all-encompassing initiative to care for employees, residents and the communities in which a company operates.
Below are some suggestions on building a culture of true CSR:
- Offer paid time off to volunteer. Providing employees with paid time off to volunteer for an organization or a cause of their choice is a great way to both help the surrounding community and support the cases that are near and dear to the hearts of your team members.
- Organize regular group volunteer outings. A company's CSR efforts should also incorporate group volunteer outings that offers associates a chance to work together to give back to a particular organization.
At ROSS, our associates have participated in group volunteer events at Fisher House Foundation and The Childrens’ Inn at NIH. We have orchestrated spring cleanups of facilities, provided meals for families, prepared gift baskets for residents, and coordinated a Wish List Drive so that our residents and employees can contribute needed items.
- Offer charitable gift matching. Some apartment companies have implemented gift-matching programs to encourage employees' charitable donations. Employers typically provide a dollar-for-dollar match, but it's not entirely unheard of for companies to double or even triple the employee’s original donation.
- Encourage employee wellness. These days, CSR is about more than philanthropic efforts. It's also about truly caring for your team members and enriching their lives.
One great way to support your employees is to help them improve their overall well-being. To improve their physical health, provide discounts to memberships to local gyms or implement a gym membership reimbursement program. Bring in in nutritionists to speak with employees about healthy eating.
As for their mental health, let employees know it's OK to reach out for help and to talk with their supervisors when they feel overwhelmed by their jobs or by any other issues they are dealing with. Bring stress management experts to your offices to speak to your teams, and even consider having yoga and meditation instructors teach employees about how these practices can improve their mental and physical wellness.
- Promote diversity in the workplace. Part of being a socially responsible organization is to make sure your company is open to and provides a hospitable environment to employees from all walks of life. Furthermore, companies with a diverse workforce find that the richness of backgrounds, experiences and ideas truly strengthens them, better enabling them to grow, adapt and respond to changes in the marketplace.
- Support the professional growth of your team members. Real CSR also entails a commitment to supporting the professional development of your employees – even though there's a chance that development may one day benefit another company.
At ROSS, we encourage employees to take advantage of the more than 500 courses available to them through the Vision Learning Management System, an online training program for those in the multifamily industry. We also aim to be clear from the start of an employee's tenure about the opportunities for advancement and what the employee needs to do to earn those promotions.
In the end, when companies practice true CSR, the benefits are almost endless. You will extend helping hands to those in need, create a happier workforce, and position your company to truly thrive.