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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are practically a given at most companies these days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all companies have truly accepted the calling to be good corporate citizens. Some CSR programs are really nothing more than a marketing ploy, and a poorly executed one at that, struggling to get employees excited to participate and give back to the community.
One company that’s getting it right is TCC, the largest Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer in the U.S. Its nationally-recognized Culture of Good initiative—a movement in which TCC gives back in every community it does business—has succeeded in making a difference in local communities while also keeping employees happy and engaged in their work.
Ryan McCarty, TCC’s director of customer and employee relations, launched the Culture of Good in 2013. To date, TCC has donated nearly $3 million through the program. According to McCarty, there are seven guidelines every company should follow to create an effective CSR program.
1. Create a culture built on doing good
To ensure your CSR program isn’t just an afterthought, McCarty emphasizes the importance of making sure that giving back is at the foundation of the company’s culture and core values. By coming from a place of sincerity that is true to the company’s beliefs, a CSR program will become an extension of the company’s intentions.
At TCC, McCarty and CEO Scott Moorehead developed the “Virtuous Circle of Success” (VCS), which focuses on creating a culture that inspires and motivates people to reach their full potential, while also being a part of its greater purpose. Through the VCS, TCC believes that when each employee is passionate about making a difference in the lives of the people the company touches, everyone will succeed. Simply put, TCC wants to make a difference equally in the lives of its employees, customers and the communities it serves.
2. Follow your employee’s interests
McCarty is adamant that businesses should support charities or causes that employees are already passionate about. Before deciding where TCC should donate its money, time and resources, McCarty spent a significant amount of time determining what efforts would make the most impact on both his employees and the community. That was no easy feat considering the company has more than 1,700 employees and 630 stores across the nation.After discovering that an overwhelming majority (85%) of TCC employees are Millennials, McCarty focused his efforts on the types of charities and volunteer efforts this demographic is most interested in supporting. Research from the Boston Consulting Group found that Millennials are huge proponents of the“buying local” trendand want to shop at, work for and engage with companies that share their value for social responsibility.
With this in mind, McCarty decided that supporting local communities—instead of national programs— in which TCC’s employees live and work, would increase employee engagement across the board. By inspiring employees to work hard to do the most good in their communities, it provides a better sense of job fulfillment that Millennials crave.
3. Provide paid time off for volunteer efforts
Volunteer time off (VTO) policies are a growing trend among businesses truly committed to doing CSR programs the right way. Companies that allow VTO recruit and retain ambitious employees. Studies show giving your employees volunteer opportunities as part of their jobs builds loyalty to your company, making them honored to work for a place with a strong community mindset.
TCC, for example, gives employees two paid days or 16 hours off per year to volunteer in a community effort of their own choosing. In addition, each store is given $125 per quarter ($500 a year) to dedicate to a local organization of their choice. Stores and departments have done holiday outreaches, food donations, given winter clothing, created care baskets for new moms, sent military care packs and more.
4. Get your customers involved
William Matthew Drake II is the store manager of TCC’s Oxford East location in Pennsylvania. With poverty in areas surrounding this particular store, Drake felt it was important to take a look at the local youth and invest in something with the potential to be a long-term solution to the problems facing his community.
His store decided to focus on a local after school program that reaches kids ages 9-18. The organization supports between 250-500 kids from five area schools. At one of those schools, 48% of the students are on state-provided lunches.TCC employees volunteer their time side-by-side teachers who donate their time to help with anything the program needs. They’ve also found unique ways to raise funds for the youth center, such as playing in charitable basketball games with the local university’s women’s basketball team.
Employees at this store also encourage their customers to support the cause. At checkout, customers are given three options if they want to get involved: 1) to make a cash donation to the youth center, 2) to donate gardening tools and supplies to help build its garden, and 3) to bring in old books to expand its library.
This philosophy has proved successful. In Q1 2015, the store raised more than $500 in customer Culture of Good donations and saw an 80 percent increase in year-over-year growth from Q1 2014.
5. Make it annual
When McCarty read the National Retail Federation’s 2013 prediction that the average person with children in grades K-12 would spend $86 that year on school supplies(which increased to $101.18 in 2014), he was shocked. As a dedicated community activist, he knew that not every family had that kind of money to spend on school supplies. But it sparked his idea for the Culture of Good’s first initiative, which has turned into a nationally-recognized annual event.
TCC’s School Rocks Backpack Giveaway, which hits stores Aug. 1, is now in its third year. More than 400 participating TCC stores across the U.S. donate 100,000 backpacks that are stuffed with pencils, paper, a pencil box, folders, glue and more to children. Since 2013, TCC has donated 260,000 backpacks to ensure kids are prepared for the start of the school year and set up for success in the classroom. Each year the event grows more successful with lines of customers wrapping around the TCC stores hours before the event kicks off.
In addition to the School Rocks Backpack Giveaway, TCC holds three other campaigns each year that include providing canned goods to more than 300 local food banks, giving supply packs to 3,500 teachers across the U.S. and volunteering time to improve the environment for Earth Day.McCarty has two designated “Champions of Good” in each region, totaling more than 75 employees leading the company’s charitable initiatives. They foster new ideas, communicate Culture of Good opportunities to fellow employees and ensure philanthropy remains a significant part of TCC’s corporate culture.
7. Get feedback
To ensure his CSR program is impactful for his employees, McCarty regularly assesses their reactions and feelings. Based on his findings, he is able to adjust the Culture of Good’s programs appropriately.
When McCarty surveyed 864 TCC employees about the impact of the Culture of Good initiatives, he found a positive correlation between CSR efforts and employee fulfillment, among many other advantages it offers the company:
86% said that the Culture of Good gives them asense of fulfillmentin their work.
83% said the Culture of Good makes them feel that Moorehead Communications(TCC’s parent company)shares their valuefor social responsibility.
65% said the Culture of Good contributes tostaying employedby TCC.
53% percent said that their store has gainednew customersas a result of Culture of Good efforts.
52% said the Culture of Good has helped buildbetter communication skillsbetween employees and helped form stronger team bonds in the workplace.