The Power of Meaningful Work

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Organizations engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the desire to attract investors, customers, and prospective employees. But a new study in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly shows that CSR efforts in the hospitality industry also benefit another key group of stakeholders—current employees:

pullquoteFrom the viewpoint of hospitality industry practice, the most important implication of our findings is that when hospitality organizations engage in CSR activities and make their employees aware of these activities, they can reap substantial benefits in terms of improved job attitudes and greater engagement in discretionary work behaviors. This is an important finding because research suggests that engagement in CSR may be driven by the objective of projecting a better image to financial investors, potential customers, or potential employees, or may simply reflect a trend to follow the latest management fashion, rather than being explicitly focused on promoting outcomes at the level of the organization’s employees. When engagement in CSR is not motivated by an explicit concern for the attitudes and performance of current employees, it is more likely that organizations miss out on multiple opportunities of making their employees aware of ongoing CSR CQ_v53n3_72ppiRGB_150pixWinitiatives. However, this study suggests that it is the employees’ awareness of these initiatives that drives results. Observation of CSR practices in the organization under investigation in our study and discussion with managers revealed multiple starting points for thinking about how hospitality businesses can foster greater awareness of corporate CSR initiatives in their employees.

The paper, “The Power of Meaningful Work: How Awareness of CSR Initiatives Fosters Task Significance and Positive Work Outcomes in Service Employees” by Steffen Raub of Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne and Stephan Blunschi of MIGROS, Switzerland, is forthcoming in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

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