Friday, November 7, 2008

The New Challenge for Human Resources: Implementing Corporate Social Responsibility

Far too often, the function of the Human Resource department is considered to be essentially an administrative function, handling payroll, processing benefits, recording leave and organizing trainingprogrammes. By and large HR departments have limited connections with the development and implementation of the organizations' business strategies. The HR department could be a key player in most organizations, gathering and disseminating information about talent, helping to develop and implement strategy and developing practices and systems that motivate individual employees to ever-higher levels of performance. Human Resource also have a major and critical role to play in ensuring that the company adopts and effectively implements Corporate Social Responsibility programmes. An enormous opportunity exists for the leaders of HR functions to enhance their departments' roles. One area wherein Human Resources can play a strong and effective role is in the promotion and implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility. HR can manage the CSR plan implementation and monitor its adoption proactively, while documenting its success throughout the company. Human resources technology can help with a Corporate Social Responsibility programme by fostering a culture of social responsibility and sharing and communicating the value of corporate social responsibility toemployees and the community

HR's role in Corporate Social Responsibility should start at the recruitment stage. Today prospective employees are taking a strong look at the social footprints of Companies. Surveys have indicated that fresh employees are willing to work for a socially responsible company even for a lower salary. Recruitment is the process of searching for prospective employees and stimulating them to apply for jobs in the organizations. The aim of an effective recruitment programme should be to attract the best talentfor the job. Companies have to attract as many applicants as possible so that it can hire the best people. Human Resources professionals need to utilize all possible channels to inform potential candidates about their company's CSR programmes Creating a culture of change and responsibility starts with HR. Getting employees, who are already socially conscious, excited about fresh Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, is a great way to begin. A committed set of employees who infuse enthusiasm for such programs would enable friendly competition and recognition programmes.

Over the past few years, there have been reports about large, trusted companies that have failed employees, shareholders and the public (i.e. Enron, Lehman, etc). These failures have created mistrust inthe corporate world. Employer brands are being eroded and the once sacred trust that employees had with stable pensions, defined benefits and lifelong jobs, are being replaced with pay for performance andadjustment to new learning goals. In such an environment, Corporate Social Responsibility can go a longway in rehabilitating the employer brand with potential new hires and society at large. It can help defeat the image that corporate objectives are rooted in single minded profit at the expense of society and the environment. Social and community connections that are encouraged by employers give employees permission to involve their companies in meaningful ways with the community. Encouraging employees to participate in community projects, blood donation progranmmes, food banks, and fund raising events and so forth. Encouraging Community Relations through the HR team would include implementing reward programmes, charitable contributions and encouraging community involvement and practices. Examples of these programs include sending emails and company newsletters to staff members that highlight employees and managers involved in community relations or creating monthly reward programs to recognize efforts by individuals within the company.

Training and Development programs that explain the connection between the company's core products or services and the society at large, their value to the local community and ways in which employees can getinvolved in appropriate CSR projects would sustain and direct these initiatives. As mentioned above Human Resources are still unaware of its expanding role particularly in the area of promoting corporate responsibility within the organization. There is need for training the HR personnel about the new challenges and prospects available to them.
The success of a company's Corporate Social Responsibility plan is possible through an effective HR Department that has the capability to effectively plan, control and manage the company's social and community goals, achieve efficiency and quality, and improve employee and manager communications.To make their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes effective companies need to empower the HR Department to undertake the responsibility of ensuring the widest possible information spread of the company's social and community programmes. This is the new challenge official of the HR Department face in the future

Ref: Suresh Parmar

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