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Why Social Responsibility is Key to Success
Published Friday, September 29, 2017

Employees of Admix in Londonderry, a 2014 Best Company to Work For, which has socially responsible practices. Photo by Christine Carignan.

Consumers, suppliers and both potential and current employees are all demanding more from businesses. Millennials, who came of age with unlimited access to information, have driven corporate transparency to a new level with their engagement on social media. While years ago we waited for annual reports to assess a company’s success, now they are evaluated minute to minute on their corporate responsibility or lack thereof.

Given consumer focus on authenticity and transparency, it is no wonder that Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, has become mainstream. CSR is an umbrella encompassing a company’s environmental impact, workplace practices, community engagement and governance.

The lasting power of CSR is far more than the social media storytelling of late; companies that engage their workforce in doing good also do well financially. CSR efforts that avoid resource waste, maximize energy efficiency and demonstrate a commitment to employees and the community not only create opportunities to reduce costs but also generate new revenue.

Workplaces With Purpose
New Hampshire has an aging workforce, and it is critical that companies find ways to attract millennials to maintain a healthy business environment. The 2016 “Millennial Employee Engagement Study,” conducted by Cone Communications, found more than three-quarters of the respondents consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. Millennials are looking for purpose and passion in their work.

In the 20 years that NH Businesses for Social Responsibility has partnered with Business NH Magazine to recognize the Best Companies to Work For in NH, the cultures of countless great companies have been examined, evaluated and shared. They have demonstrated the value of purpose and passion in the workplace.

What makes a company an employer of choice has evolved during the course of the competition, but the constant during those 20 years has been an unwavering commitment from these companies to their employees. Winning companies understand that the value of their businesses is directly tied to their most valuable asset, their people. It’s no accident that the triple bottom line of sustainable business recognizes the same: People, Planet and Profit.

Cultures of Collaboration
Best companies work continuously to develop a culture that encourages employee input and ideas. They openly share goals and challenges and work collaboratively to find opportunities. They encourage employees to take initiative.

Engaged employees have higher levels of productivity, but they are also more connected to each other and their communities. Small companies like Admix in Londonderry, named a Best Company to Work For in 2014, have a strong social culture that nurtures camaraderie that results in a strong work ethic.

Robust participation in employee-run committees focused on volunteerism, environmental sustainability, employee communications, creating fun in the workplace and Employee Stock Ownership demonstrates the value that Admix places on employee input.

These companies develop supportive environments that start with management authentically responding to the needs of their employees to create a place where work-life balance is truly respected. That spirit of support incubates care within teams, creating an environment where employees have each other’s back when family or personal needs arise.

Recognizing Contributions
Employers of choice consistently find simple and creative ways to recognize the contributions of employees. Repeatedly, when judges for the Best Companies to Work For competition visit the sites of finalists and meet with focus groups of employees, they hear about the importance of a CEO who regularly reaches out to employees to thank them for their efforts.

Methuen Construction president and CEO Joseph A. Barbone Jr., recognizes Cindy Santos with a Teammate of the Month plaque.Courtesy photo.

Simple recognition is the foundation of these companies. Each works to find the right way to recognize exceptional performance or personal accomplishments, which lifts everyone up. Recognition, whether a simple thank you or more formal, like bonus programs or special events, communicate the significance of each member of a team to the success of the company and the community.

Investing in Employees
Developing employees is also a signature of an exceptional company. In the Cone survey, 95 percent of millennials prioritized job training and career development as important when considering an employer. Best companies provide a variety of development opportunities from internal training and mentoring to tuition reimbursement.

“It’s essential that employees have multiple channels for development,” says Brett Cromwell, global communications manager for Medtronic Transformative Solutions in Portsmouth, ranked first among this year’s Best Companies to Work For in NH. “Our employee-led resource groups at Medtronic provide unique opportunities to sharpen people skills like business acumen, communication and building personal brand, and we know those are the skills the future leaders of our organization need.”

Investing in Communities
A socially responsible company also values the greater community, understanding that the long-term success of their business is directly tied to the health of the community. Best companies understand the importance of volunteerism. Providing opportunities for employees to connect to their communities has many benefits. The 2011 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey found millennials are twice as likely to be satisfied with the progression of their careers when they have the opportunity to volunteer through their employers.

Hypertherm in Hanover, one of two companies to earn Hall of Fame status twice in the Best Companies competition, knows this. Stacey Chiocchio, community citizenship manager, explains, “Associates can choose where they want to volunteer, so this creates wonderful mixed teams of volunteers who normally may not work side by side. Through serving together they have incredible team building experiences making for a more engaged and broadened workforce.” The best companies to work for create collaborative environments where people thrive and caring for the environment is a priority. They are focused on the triple bottom line.

Learn more about social and corporate responsibility at Breakfast With The Best October 19 in Concord. Go to www.eventsnh.com for details.

Michelle Veasey is executive director of NH Businesses for Social Responsibility in Concord. She can be reached at michelle@nhbsr.org or  603-391-8471 or visit nhbsr.org.

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