Point Your CSR Inward with an EAF Program to Benefit Your Employees, Business, and Community
By Jim Starr on October 7, 2021
There is no doubt that CSR is no longer an extra, nice-to-have strategy for companies; businesses know that CSR is a must-have practice if they are to succeed in today’s global, competitive marketplace. More than ever before, customers, investors, partners, and employees are looking beyond financial returns and compensation packages for proof that a company is responsible, benefiting society, improving the communities in which they work, and ultimately bringing their resources to bear on the great challenges facing our world.
The vast majority of CSR programs are outward-facing efforts with strategies, initiatives, and donations that impact lives, improve communities, and make the planet better. But CSR can be more than just an external strategy; businesses can leverage that same ethos to positively impact their own employees. The best CSR is more than what you do for others – it’s about what you do for your own employees.
Most CSR programs engage their employees, through workplace giving, volunteering, donation matching, and other tactics. And make no mistake – workers do anticipate these opportunities at the workplace. 86 percent of businesses told us for our Snapshot research that their workers expect them to provide opportunities to engage in the community, and 87 percent believe their employees expect them to support causes and issues that matter to those employees.
Many of these efforts can also be directed to address the needs of a company’s own employees. An Employee Assistance Fund (EAF), also known as an Employee Relief Fund or Employee Crisis Fund, helps employees cope with unexpected hardships that place undue financial stress on them and their families. EAFs are an easy way to turn your CSR efforts inward. Companies and their employees can support their fellow co-workers by helping them manage and get through very difficult circumstances.
An EAF provides value and benefit to multiple stakeholders: your employees, your company, and your community:
- Your employees: The most obvious beneficiaries of an EAF are your own employees. According to a U.S. Federal Reserve report on the economic well-being of US households, 39% of Americans can't cover a $400 unexpected emergency expense or would need to borrow or sell something to do so. This financial stress impacts your employees and their families – and an EAF helps them recover more quickly as well as help alleviate their stress. An EAF can also be a vehicle for employees to help their co-workers by making it a part of the company’s employee giving program.
- Your business: By helping employees manage and cope with financial hardships, a company is helping those employees return to a sense of normalcy and back to work more productively. It also demonstrates to your employees – and your potential employees – that the company really does care about them, which benefits your recruitment and retention efforts. An EAF program shows employees that you go above and beyond typical work perks with initiatives that support employees in the totality of their lives.
- Your community: Many people reach out to nonprofit and government agencies for assistance during these times of need. When a company is supporting its employees, it reduces the burden on those organizations, freeing them up to provide assistance to others in need in the community.
America’s Charities can establish and administer a new EAF program, or help you take your existing program to a new level. With an already-established infrastructure, we can quickly launch and mobilize an EAF, allowing a company to get started and scale faster. And outsourcing your company’s EAF to America’s Charities, a nonprofit, offers special legal and tax advantages, in addition to reducing the administrative burden on businesses. We handle everything from program design and development, grants approval, application documentation requirements, funds distribution, and regular reporting, we well as provide employee support. We also advise companies that want to integrate an EAF into workplace giving, employee engagement, or wellness programs.
If you’re ready to turn your CSR program inward and harness the social good ethos within your company to help your own workforce experiencing an unexpected hardship, visit www.charities.org/eaf to learn more.
Jim Starr, president and CEO of America’s Charities, is an accomplished leader in strategic planning, business development, and partnerships, with more than 25 years of experience bringing corporations and nonprofits together to increase revenue and social good.