Learning from corporate social responsibility post-pandemic

The pandemic has shown how important CSR is to organisational success. Here Adam Weinger shows how to grow that culture in the future.

As the world begins to move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, people everywhere are reconciling what we’ve learned over the past year and a half. One of the biggest recurring topics is corporate social responsibility (CSR).

CSR refers to the ways in which businesses contribute to, and promote the greater good in society. But if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that the world is watching these companies. Companies must genuinely commit to improving society and make large efforts to further their CSR initiatives. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing customers and employees alike.

Because of this, it’s vital that companies continue to incorporate CSR at the workplace and encourage participation in them, even post-pandemic. That’s because the pandemic reinforced these ideas:

  • Employees want to support charitable causes
  • CSR influences employee engagement
  • Consumers are paying attention.

Let’s take a closer look at both the role CSR played during the pandemic and how companies can continue to propel those initiatives forward.

Employees want to support charitable causes

Early on in the pandemic, companies began looking for ways to help important causes. One major avenue they took was through their corporate giving programmes. For instance, several companies expanded their matching gift programmes, increasing their maximum match limits and ratios so employees could give more.

Companies must genuinely commit to improving society and make large efforts to further their CSR initiatives

As a result, corporate giving significantly increased as well. In fact, according to a recent study, corporate foundations and corporate giving programmes accounted for $9.4 billion (44%) of total COVID-19 funding in 2020.

Case in point: employees want to support important causes. So how does that translate into what companies can do now? Essentially, companies should bring all of their CSR activity to the forefront of their brand and values – especially because these giving opportunities are becoming more important to employees. In fact, 64% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.

Offering a variety of workplace giving programmes can help with this. These include:

  • Matching gift programmes
  • Automatic payroll deductions
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Volunteer grants
  • Disaster relief.

Companies must consider their CSR efforts and promote them to both current and prospective employees. The more employees are aware of the opportunities they have to participate in corporate giving, the more likely they will be to take part and stay with their current employers.


CSR influences employee engagement

It may seem like CSR is just an extra benefit that employees appreciate, but it actually has a huge impact on their engagement levels at work.

According to this guide, employee engagement refers to the level at which employees are excited about and committed to their jobs. Higher employee engagement rates therefore lead to an increase in productivity and retention.

CSR is arguably one of the most effective ways to keep employees engaged. Employees are more committed and happy at work if their employers actively offer them opportunities to take part in their CSR initiatives and improve the communities around them.

With this knowledge in hand, companies should make CSR a central part of their company culture and make it easy for employees to participate in corporate giving programmes, such as offering paid time off to volunteer. They should communicate with their employees for ongoing feedback and show appreciation by thanking their employees for taking part in the company’s CSR efforts – this gratitude goes a long way.

Of course, these are just a few of the ways CSR can impact employee engagement. Most importantly, ensure that your CSR activities match your employees’ expectations and needs, are easily accessible, and make an impact in the community.

Consumers are paying attention

One final lesson we’ve learnt about CSR following the pandemic is that consumers are paying attention now more than ever.

According to past research, consumers were already more likely to purchase services and products from companies that are socially responsible. However, due to COVID-19, more businesses have realised that their success depends not just on profitability, but also their commitment to improving society. 

The businesses that come out on top are the ones that have been using strong CSR initiatives and effective CSR strategies and implementations.

How can companies do this? Many larger companies have not only supported charitable causes, but also assisted smaller businesses that struggled over the course of the pandemic. Several corporations have implemented environmentally friendly policies, as well.

By providing support and relief to the entire community, companies pave the way for a positive public image and more consumers who want to purchase from them.

Social impact does more than benefit a company internally. Externally, it shows customers that they’re committed to helping the greater good and will use their available resources to do just that.


The pandemic certainly placed a spotlight on companies this past year, and many wondered how they would respond. Fortunately, a lot of companies delivered. From expanding their matching gift programs to helping smaller businesses and not-for-profits, these companies and their CSR initiatives had a huge impact on society during this time.

That’s why companies must continue to stress the importance of their CSR efforts within their organisations and ensure their employees can easily access those benefits. From there, companies will continue to see an increase in productivity, profitability, and retention, and society will continue to benefit from the good those companies are doing.


About the author

Adam Weinger is president of Double the Donation.


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