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Corporate Social Responsibility can improve job performance for frontline employees

08.05.2014 - (idw) European School of Management and Technology (ESMT)

- Companies looking to engage their frontline workforce can leverage their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities

- New research shows when and how CSR can improve the job performance of frontline employees

New research in the May 2014 issue of the American Marketing Associations Journal of Marketing shows that employee engagement in CSR activities such as environmental initiatives, charitable giving, and ethical business practices, can improve job performance. More than 200 employees at a Global 500 financial services company took part in the study, which matched employee surveys with supervisor ratings of job performance. The study is authored by Daniel Korschun of Drexel University; CB Bhattacharya, E.ON Chair in Corporate Responsibility, and Dean of International Relations at ESMT European School of Management and Technology; and Scott D. Swain of Clemson University.

Companies rely on frontline employees salespeople, customer service representatives, wait staff, account managers, and the like to serve customers profitably. Yet, these employees often feel disconnected from both the company they work for and the customers they are expected to serve.

We find that CSR has a tangible impact on job performance and that performance improvements occur because frontline employees feel closer to both customers and the company, said Korschun. Frontline employees face a natural tension between allegiances to customers on one side and the company on the other. CSR can help frontline employees reconcile this tension by highlighting what the employee shares in common with both customers and the company.

Employees told us that CSR can be an ice breaker in conversations with customers, said Korschun. Once they find out that a customer shares a passion for social or environmental causes, it can create a bond that is highly motivating. Likewise, when an employee believes support for CSR comes from every level of management, the employee senses that the company shares values like caring and altruism.

To reap the potential rewards of CSR, the authors recommend that managers encourage employees to talk about and develop shared experiences with customers around the companys CSR activities. They cite examples of novel programs at companies such as CISCO, Starbucks, and SAP which have experimented with joint volunteering programs that bring customers and employees to the same site. They also recommend that upper management take a visible role in enacting CSR.

This is yet more evidence that companies can generate substantial return on CSR investment, says Bhattacharya. But they need to manage it wisely.

Press contact
Martha Ihlbrock, +49 30 21231-1043,
Fabian Steinecke, +49 30 21231-1041,

About ESMT
ESMT European School of Management and Technology was founded in October 2002 by 25 leading global companies and institutions. The international business school offers a full-time MBA, an executive MBA, a Masters in Management as well as open enrollment and customized executive education programs. ESMT focuses on three main topics: leadership and social responsibility, European competitiveness, and the management of technology. Additionally, the business school provides an interdisciplinary platform for discourse between politics, business, and academia. ESMT is based in Berlin, Germany, with Schloss Gracht as an additional location near Cologne. ESMT is a private business school, accredited by the German state, AACSB, AMBA, and FIBAA. Since 2013 ESMT has the right to grant PhDs. Weitere Informationen: Zur Pressemitteilung

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