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How to engage employees through CSR? Back to the CSR committee meeting

Last Tuesday, Otctober 24th, CCIFV CSR committee met up at Workyos – Smart Business center. The meeting was open to the public in order to reach as many actors as possible and gathered 25 participants from companies, NGOs and other organizations showing an interest in socially responsible activities.

The main discussion point on the agenda was the influence of Corporate Social Responsibility on employee engagement. CCIFV carried out a survey among 39 companies to understand the employees’ perceptions of CSR in Vietnam, the dimensions of CSR in which the companies are involved and to which extent CSR can engage the employees. This meeting was also the occasion to introduce a company CSR case, thanks to the participation of Mr Vu Duc Thang, Deputy Director at SGS Vietnam, who presented his Agricultural Cooperative project in Mekong Delta. Afterwards CCIFV presented the upcoming new projects for 2018 and invited participants to give their opinion and share ideas about CCIFV coming projects and their perceptions of CSR. This article focuses on the CSR survey on employee engagement.


Research : The influence of CSR on employee engagement in French companies in Vietnam

Companies in Vietnam seem to be more and more willing to develop CSR approaches. However, is this interest driven by compliance issues or is it representative of a real willingness to get involved in CSR? What would be the key incentives for companies to enhance CSR? A reason of this interest might be the correlation between CSR and employee engagement. An efficient CSR strategy should be embedded into the corporate culture, and fully understood by the employeesInvolve the employees in CSR activities can be a way to reinforce their engagement. The aim of CCIFV CSR Survey was to understand which components of the CSR strategy will influence the employee engagement in a French Vietnamese corporate environment. 

Employee engagement in Vietnam

Organizations in Vietnam face some efficiency issues regarding the employee’s commitment. This problem occurred mostly in developing countries who had been significantly impacted by globalization. 
Vietnam is facing the challenge of keeping employees engaged and retaining employees without being caught by the pay-inflation spiral. If the country manages to decrease the staff turnover rate, it will at first enable organizations to be more competitive in the Asia Pacific Region and then boost the country’s economic growth.  

In order to get a competitive advantage in terms of Human Resources, managers are striving to get competencies and knowledge to implement efficient employee’s motivation policies. Businesses have to integrate which factors will influence the engagement of their employees.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Engagement

CSR can be perceived as a way to get employees more involved in the company. According to the researcher Philip Mirvis (2012)*, CSR implementation gives the organization a competitive advantage in terms of recruiting, keeping and engaging employees. The social responsibility of the company would impact the motivation, the identity and the sense of purpose and meaning of the employee. 

In the present study concerning mainly French companies in Vietnam, CSR strategies are in general initiated by the top management, mostly French. However the CSR approach concerns all the employees, and in these companies most of the staff is Vietnamese. In this context, one may wonder how the CSR activities are perceived by French and Vietnamese employees and how they impact their engagement.

Measuring the level of commitment of employees from middle and top management within these companies having different CSR approaches gave CCIFV insights and ideas regarding which components of Corporate Social Responsibility might reinforce these employee groups' engagement.

The next step is to investigate more in depth the perception of the staff, from all hierarchic level. It will require more time and the implementation of field surveys, face to face interactions with groups of employees, lead in Vietnamese.


Key findings of the research & recommendations

It has been demonstrated in the present research that CSR initiatives reinforce the employee engagement. Overall employees from companies with a defined CSR strategy are feeling more engaged. However, the CSR approach needs to be strategically designed. It must be well communicated and should represent the overall organization’s values in order to be integrated by employees from different hierarchic levels and different nationalities. The figures in the study highlight a gap of CSR perceptions between French and Vietnamese employees but also between top management and middle management employees.

Some activities in Vietnam, such as community-oriented activities seem to be efficient to involve employees in the CSR process, since they enhance the sense of belonging to a positive group and represent an opportunity for self development.
Solutions have been suggested to reinforce job engagement throughout the development of activities to understand employees’ perceptions and to invite them to communicate and become designers of the CSR strategy, to make sure that the social responsibility approach reflects the organization’s values. Above all, it seems relevant to measure the efficiency of the CSR strategy, in order to ensure its positive impact on stakeholders, and more specifically here on the employees.

CCIFV is now working on the publication of a guidebook with detailed results of the survey and recommendations

Back to the CSR Committee Meeting

Among the companies participating, many of them expressed an interest in understanding the perceptions employees have of CSR and what kind of tools they can develop to enhance engagement through CSR. We gathered all the participants’ ideas to define the next session’s key topics, get insights to design new workshops and new strategies to build projects with companies and help them understanding the employees’ expectations to efficiently develop their CSR approach.

For more information about CSR and employee engagement, please contact Clemence Aron - CSR Project Manager at CCIFV -

Aron, C. (2017) The Influence of Corporate Social Responsibility on employee engagement in French companies in Vietnam.
Mirvis, P. H. (2012). Employee engagement and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The Encyclopedia of Human Resource Management: Thematic Essays.

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