IT’S NO SECRET that recent university grads are unfamiliar with the job market. Most have never held a full time job before and they are uncertain of what to expect as they enter China’s fast growing economy. This presents a unique challenge for HR managers and directors, but also an opportunity. HR departments must differentiate their company in some way to recruit the best talent. One method of differentiation is through the successful creation and promotion of a CSR program.
“CSR programs are quite important for [attracting candidates],” says Richard Ni, Associate Director of Consumer Sales & Marketing and HR division for Robert Walters. “[At] university, the students have little experience with companies. They only know the brand name, what they see on social media, and what they see in the news.” For this exact reason numerous companies air television advertisements promoting their green initiatives or fundraising efforts for various causes.
CSR programs are not a primary concern for people from older generations, but younger people show an increased interest. “Generation X employees are satisfied with the basic aspects, such as job stability and monetary rewards,” says MiriamWickertsheim, Regional Director North China, Direct HR, “while Generation Y employees seek other factors for job satisfaction.” Members of generation Y are thinking beyond getting payment to predict their level of satisfaction at their new company.
Where do I start?
Start by asking yourself, “What are my company’s core values?” If you don’t know off the top of your head, someone isn’t doing their job! Every company has unique core values which reflect the company’s corporate culture and goals. For example, a fitness company could organize a marathon for charity. The marathon reflects the company’s emphasis on health and wellness. A CSR program that is a continuation of the company’s core values stands the best chance of receiving support from management. Buy-in is critical for a successful CSR program. Without company-wide commitment to a program it will not succeed. Highlighting the attraction and retention benefits of the program is a good start, but it’s rarely enough. Most mangers outside of the HR Department will only see more work for themselves and few, if any, benefits. To encourage buy-in and avoid these problems, ensure the proposed CSR program reflects your company’s values.
Richard Ni cites GE as an ideal example of a company running a successful CSR program. “GE is quite a good example of an internal CSR program. In their Junior Achievements program, staff volunteer to attend programs which explore topics like business ethic goals and business planning,” Richard Ni. GE’s program succeeds for three reasons: One, it’s a well run program in which staff enjoy participating. Two, the company has committed to the program ensuring that it both survives and grows. And three, it is successfully publicized. All three aspects, properly addressed within your own company, can lead to the creation of a successful CSR program.
Affects on Retention and Recruitment
It’s not only about attracting new talent; it’s about retaining that talent. While high turnover plagues the Chinese market, HR Managers are looking for unique ways to increase retention. A properly run CSR program keeps employees happy, engaged, and productive. And remember, happy employees are one of the best ways to promote your company; through word of mouth they will act as your recruiters.
Although CSR can be important, don’t expect candidates to run up and ask about your CSR programs. “It’s not so common for the candidate to directly ask if a company has a CSR program. However, it’s important to note the difference between a direct benchmark and influencing power,” says Richard Ni. CSR programs, although increasing in popularity, will not be a primary motivator for joining a company. However, it can be a tipping-point in a candidates decision making process and separate yourself from the competition.
Corporate Social Responsibility is often one of the most neglected elements of a company for obvious reasons; it does not generate a profit and is seen as only marginally beneficial to a company at large. However, the pervasive attitude towards CSR is changing. “HR should value its [CSR’s] importance and pay more attention to it than ever,” says Wickertsheim. CSR programs have traditionally fallen under HR internally, to organize the event, and externally to the marketing department, to promote the accomplishment. HR directors in China are increasingly challenging this strict dichotomy.