As the light of an ending recession shines dimly at the end of the tunnel, U.S. employers and workers wait and hope for a better year ahead. But the tunnel may be longer than expected. For 13 consecutive months, the rate of increase for wages and benefits packages declined for new hires, compared with the previous year according to SHRM Leading Indicators of National Employment. SHRM also reports in The U.S. Recession and its Impact on Employee Retirement Poll that the outlook is gloomy for would-be retirees with 68 percent of HR professionals saying the number of employees planning to delay retirement due to the recession increased during the past year.  

Rising above the recession: Responsibility and retention in 2010

As the light of an ending recession shines dimly at the end of the tunnel, U.S. employers and workers wait and hope for a better year ahead. But the tunnel may be longer than expected. For 13 consecutive months, the rate of increase for wages and benefits packages declined for new hires, compared with the previous year according to SHRM Leading Indicators of National Employment. SHRM also reports in The U.S. Recession and its Impact on Employee Retirement Poll that the outlook is gloomy for would-be retirees with 68 percent of HR professionals saying the number of employees planning to delay retirement due to the recession increased during the past year. 

If 2009 was about layoffs and downsizing, 2010 could be all about retaining people who have high expectations of a company's role in society. This is where corporate social responsibility (CSR), or lack thereof, comes into play. It's especially true when it comes to employees under the age of 25, known as Generation Y, who are seeking not only promotions or pay raises, but also self-fulfillment. On an ethical basis, the high pay, bonuses and flexible working style negotiated by previous generations are taken for granted by many who are now entering the workplace. As a result, organizations with a solid CSR portfolio will thrive. 

The CSR theory is nothing new. In 1960, Dave Packard, cofounder and former president and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard said: 

"I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company's existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being. As we investigate this, we inevitably come to the conclusion that a group of people get together and exist as an institution that we call a company so that they are able to accomplish something collectively that they could not accomplish separately -- they make a contribution to society, a phrase that sounds trite but is fundamental." 

Perhaps it has taken 50 years for the message to get through, but it is certainly one that echoes with today's workplace. Retention is all about understanding the needs and requirements of staff, and therefore, responsibility is a key to retaining them. 

"In our current economy, a different strategy is needed for retaining top talent in the organization," states Jeff Fix, senior vice president of human resources for Ceridian. "Talented people find jobs regardless of the economy, so it is important to focus on a strategy to keep them from jumping ship." 

Ceridian, clients support Haitian relief efforts
Several Ceridian clients, such as Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children, are performing amazing work in Haiti and are well known for being at the forefront of disaster relief efforts. Save the Children has set up a page on its Web site that provides information to schools that wish to raise funds for Haiti (www.savethechildren.org/schools_communities)

Ceridian LifeWorks professionals have been providing up-to-date emergency resources to support employees in the United States who may have family members or friends in Haiti. We have published information in English and Haitian Creole about how LifeWorks professionals can help affected employees deal with stress, anxiety or grief. In addition, LifeWorks has developed podcast to support managers and developed a list of recognized, reputable charitable organizations that are accepting donations for emergency relief in Haiti. These resources are posted on www.ceridian.com. 

Ceridian employees have been generous in their response to the crisis and Ceridian is matching employee donations to the Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development fund, which will support emergency relief and recovery efforts to help those people affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

Give where you live 
Companies with strong CSR initiatives allow their employees to devote time to volunteer projects. Like Ceridian, they operate a payroll giving option where donations can be made to charity through automatic deductions from employees' pay. Ceridian is modeling the example with our employees who have given more than 15,000 hours of community service to more than 750 organizations. Ceridian employees donate community service to nonprofit organizations, sometimes through company-sponsored events and, more often, as individuals. We recognize and encourage volunteerism through annual Volunteer Recognition activities and school partnerships. Ceridian also supports one workday per employee each year to be allocated as Volunteer Service Day. Employees receive their normal compensation while providing valuable services to their community. 

According to Karen Huss, vice president of internal communications and community relations, "Ceridian encourages mangers to incorporate community service into their team-building activities. We are committed to making a difference in the communities in which our employees live and work by donating time and resources to those in need. Our Diversity Action Councils have a community service goal as part of their charters and have partnered with many schools and organizations. Our focus is on education as we all work together to prepare the workforce of tomorrow." 

A powerful word: communicate 
It might sound simple, but integrated communication is absolutely essential. Treating CSR as an internal marketing campaign in the same way that you would run an external marketing campaign ensures a solid foundation and improves employee engagement. Ben & Jerry's and the Body Shop pioneered the practice of marketing social responsibility as a business philosophy in the 1970s and 1980s. The movement has accelerated in recent years, spurred by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals and growing environmental concerns. 

"In 2010, we will continue providing many communication opportunities with employee engagement survey focus groups, executive roundtables, and manager skip level meetings with employees," says Diane Cothran, employee engagement leader, Ceridian. "In this time of uncertainty, we must continue to integrate our change leadership process into all levels of the organization, and equip our employees with the tools and resources to better serve our customers." 

Greener on this side of the fence 
No organization's approach to adopting CSR would be complete without paying close attention to environmental concerns. Green initiatives are a critical component to CSR as more companies integrate them into the way they conduct business. Ceridian, for example, links its initiatives to reduce carbon footprints closely with our corporate goals and strategic objectives. We strive to raise awareness for everyone at Ceridian to pursue and continue our green efforts. A green task force identifies opportunities for the business to reduce our carbon footprint and monitors initiatives to ensure that current processes will be sustained. 

It's a business strategy 
Ceridian's values guide everything we do, including our commitment to corporate social responsibility. And we can help you find more ways to enhance your organization's success in 2010. Learn more by asking your Ceridian representative about Ceridian's Employee & Productivity Solutions