3 Tips for Engaging Employees with a Corporate Social Responsibility Program, Virtually 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) goes far beyond offering volunteer time off to support the local soup kitchen or animal shelter. While it’s important to involve employees in these opportunities, CSR means integrating your company’s mission and purpose with sustainable values, and supporting community goals in ways that connect to your company’s business. It’s an ongoing effort that requires engagement from the top down. However, it is often difficult to find the right work-life balance. It is especially hard to maintain this relationship with the COVID-19 pandemic as many volunteer activities have been made virtual. Businesses can positively impact their employees by providing them with opportunities to volunteer through corporate philanthropy programs. By finding ways to engage employees in virtual opportunities, businesses can foster continued growth for their company and the community. 

Not only do CSR programs positively impact current employees, but also according to social impact studies many employees prioritize seeking employment with companies that currently offer CSR programs. In fact, 82% of millennials consider CSR efforts when deciding where to work, and 70% are actually willing to take a 30% pay cut to work for a company with strong social values. Existing corporate volunteer programs that work with organizations, like Special Olympics Massachusetts, are especially attractive to potential employees looking to impact the community. In addition to that, 74% of employees say that their job is more fulfilling when they’re provided with opportunities to make a positive social impact on social and environmental issues. Not only do CSR programs help with retaining talent because employees are engaged and invested in their company’s efforts, but they also assist with developing talent. Of those surveyed, 92% of respondents agree that volunteering is an effective way to improve leadership skills. Having easy access to corporate volunteer programs proves beneficial for both the employee and employer and understanding the positive impact CSR programs have on the workforce, we strive to provide ways to engage your employees virtually through Special Olympics Massachusetts.

  1. Support Employee Interests and Passions 

Rather than pushing employees into volunteer opportunities that they may not be passionate about, a business should seek to understand their employees’ passions. You can use online surveys to gauge employee interests in organizations that align with the company’s overall mission and then organize like-minded individuals into groups to pursue the causes they care about. Involving employees in the decision-making process directly increases engagement with corporate volunteer programs and ensures they are passionate about helping the cause. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has required businesses to adjust and Special Olympics Massachusetts has also adapted to allow our volunteers to remain actively involved in our cause. When we are unable to hold large gatherings in-person, we created weekly virtual meetings so volunteers and athletes can continue to be engaged. Many people find it more convenient to volunteer virtually, as it allows them to commit their time and service away from the physical site of an organization. By asking your employees to participate in an online survey, your business can get a better idea about how your employees want to be involved with activities and events. The most impactful CSR programs encourage employees to contribute to a cause they are passionate about, using the medium they prefer. Special Olympics Massachusetts offers a number of ways for corporate partners can get involved with varying degrees of time commitment. Whether it’s offering support for one day or one year through fundraising, mentoring, or volunteering, Special Olympics Massachusetts will work with you to define what level of engagement is best for your business.  

“Special Olympics volunteers are showing wonderful creativity, dedication, and enthusiasm volunteering virtually with athletes across the state,” says Jen Dowdy, Director of Development, who oversees the Volunteer Program at Special Olympics MA. “Volunteers are connecting with athletes with a click of a button and creating even more inclusive and accessible opportunities for athletes of all ages. Individuals and groups are leading Young Athletes sports training, reading books during Young Athletes Story Time, hosting social games for weekly Athlete Chat sessions, joining monthly Dances, leading fitness and sports training programs, and more – all virtually. It’s been inspiring to see athletes and volunteers adapt and thrive together in these new virtual programs!” 


  1. Recognize Employee Efforts on Social Media 

Eversource polar plunge tweetOne way to boost engagement in a virtual setting is to recognize employees using their social media platforms to aid in outreach. When customers or clients see evidence of social responsibility from you and your employees, they tend to respond positively. Customers want to support businesses they believe are actively participating to benefit the community. Use social media to align your brand with organizations that are making change in the communities they reside. 

Recognition of your employees’ efforts helps significantly increase employee satisfaction with their employer. This acknowledgement helps employees see that your company values them and their contributions. When this happens, productivity rises in the workplace because individuals enjoy working for a supportive company. Furthermore, recognition also provides an effective way for employees to see how others in the organization are making a difference within the community. This may encourage them to get involved if they haven’t already. Seeing their peers be supported by their business for their efforts incentivizes other employees to also become more involved.  

Special Olympics is world’s largest sports organization that provides training and activities to children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities. Special Olympics Massachusetts extends across the entire state, with local programs, regional events, and state-level tournaments. This all creates a unique opportunity to reach athletes, families, and supporters. All these individuals will be very supportive of businesses that have incorporated corporate philanthropy programs to help aid the organization they care deeply about. Also, when employees share your efforts to create more inclusive communities on social media, you engage a larger following and increased publicity. People want to be a part of positive social change, especially for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Utilizing social media promotes a positive brand image for your business, which impacts employee engagement and customer satisfaction, as well as partnership opportunities. By building a positive image that you and your employees believe in, you can make a name for your company as being socially conscious. 

  1. Be Prepared for Changes

Even the best corporate social responsibility programs require adaptability. This includes adjusting your efforts based on current events. In the height of the pandemic, many organizations have had to alter their plans and the processes that were in place.  

All the best corporate volunteer programs are flexible enough to accommodate the volunteering employee’s unique situation. Talk directly with your employees to see how you can together help the community. This may include asking employees how they want to support the organization’s most important to them or changing your company’s volunteer work guidelines. For example, instead of requiring 50 hours of volunteer work per employee, expand your company’s definition of corporate social responsibility to reflect how every employee can choose the level of engagement that best suits their situation. During the pandemic, Special Olympics Massachusetts had to get creative, and so did its corporate partners. Part of that involved hosting virtual events to keep athletes, families, and supporters engaged with their efforts. By being adaptive, your corporate social responsibility programs will stay relevant and timely to employees. Good CSR programs, not only garner satisfaction from employees, but also draw support from the public who gets to know that your company is working to better the community. 


As previously described, establishing good corporate social responsibility programs are integral to a business’s success because of its positive impact on employees and the community. Even with many corporate volunteering programs having to go virtual, there are many ways to keep your employees engaged with your efforts. Having open conversations with employees can ensure that everyone is passionate about achieving the goal. 


Special Olympics Massachusetts is changing the way the world sees individuals with intellectual disabilities, but our athletes, coaches, partners and volunteers make it possible. We customize programs for our partners to reflect how they want to participate with us by bringing out-of-the-box ideas to the table.  

If our mission resonates with yours, contact us today and we’ll help you get involved. 







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