Last week, we spoke about what the future of social value might look like for your organisation in terms of giving back. Whether that be through monetary or non-monetary means. But what about one of the largest resources at your organisation’s disposal? By this, we mean your staff.
Your staff are closely intertwined with your organisation’s social value, a valuable resource you can harness to maximise the difference you make to local communities and wider social causes.
Everyone in your workforce will boast a range of skills and insight that could make a real difference to others during this time. Perhaps volunteering was something you were already doing pre-pandemic. But now it’s time to shift your focus and target your resources to those who are most in-need at this time.
Identifying the greatest need
Step one of making a more significant, far-reaching impact is to identify the greatest need in your local area.
Each community is unique, with distinct challenges, networks, issues, and resources. And if you’re going to commit your resources somewhere, it pays to make sure you understand exactly what needs the most attention.
For example, smaller businesses who felt the effects of lockdown more harshly, non-profits who are struggling with a loss of income, children and parents who have struggled with the disruption to education, or victims of domestic abuse.
Take the time to identify those most in-need and turn your attention and resources there. To do so, you can tap into the knowledge and expertise of local non-profit organisations. They are close to the ground and well-versed in current challenges and the different groups of people who are feeling the negative effects most harshly. Forging these relationships will not only help you pivot your social value now, but will be a valuable resource for ongoing, effective social value generation long into the future.
To assess the greatest need, it also pays to hear from those affected first-hand. Through non-profits, you can also interact with these people directly to understand their struggles and challenges. From here, you can create a more well-rounded view of where your resources will be best spent and prioritise your efforts accordingly. We’ve found a really valuable resource here to help you align your efforts with your local community.
Taking volunteering virtual
Even if you encouraged your staff to partake in volunteering before, it inevitably needs to change moving forward in line with social distancing regulations. During and post-COVID-19, there are more people in need than ever before. And we need to find solutions that enable us to give back and make a difference without risking further virus spread.
Virtual volunteering is a great way to do this. Via Zoom, Skype, or other video conferencing tools – or even over message or email – your staff can provide support, guidance, and advice to those in the community who need it most.
Volunteering also helps to keep your employees engaged and involved. 53% of under-35s want to volunteer more than they already do. And this rises to 60% in 18-24-year-olds. You can even align your efforts with organisations and volunteering opportunities that help to develop your staff’s own skills and experience in the process. For example, providing business advice to a local SME would, in turn, develop an employee’s own understanding and experience of business management.
If you are targeted and intentional in your volunteering efforts, you can align them with your wider organisation’s strategy and close causes. Social value generation is a long-term, ongoing process. And by connecting your individual initiatives to a larger, all-encompassing strategy, you not only maximise your impact, but encourage greater commitment and dedication to putting in the work.
Coaching and support
Offering pro bono work is a great way to harness your staff to give back. Look at the skills and expertise your employees already have and recognise areas where they could provide valuable support and assistance to others.
For example, offering consultancy services or support to local charitable organisations and associations. Or asking these organisations for any businesses they think would benefit most from the skills you and your workforce possess.
Teaching is another one. Plenty of parents had to juggle working from home and being a full-time teacher during lockdown. And even though it’s summer now, a lot of school time has been missed and parents will feel like they’ve already laboured through a summer break with the kids at home.
How can your staff support local families or educational institutions to help keep education going? Whether it’s offering mentoring virtually or volunteering with local organisations who are already looking to bridge these gaps.
This is also something that could benefit your own staff directly. Offering mentoring and educational support not only impacts the wider community but also the wellbeing of members of your own organisation who are facing similar challenges. And if this is accompanied by greater understanding of their struggles, and increased flexibility regarding their working hours, remote working opportunities, and eased deadlines, you’ll pick up great momentum with your social value.
Recognising where you’re already doing good
Over the past few weeks, we’ve spoken about new things you can do to generate social value. But let’s not overlook all the social value you’re already generating, perhaps without even realising it. But what’s essential here, is being able to report on all social good – from the accidental to the intentional.
While it’s easy enough to link monetary donations or volunteer hours to frameworks like the UN SDGs. For example, donating to a homeless shelter might hit goals 1, 2, and 3. Or volunteering at a domestic violence charity will hit goals 3, 5, and 10. But there are ways to connect even what seems the smallest bit of social good to an official framework.
You and your staff are likely already doing great things – whether that’s helping family members, neighbours, or people in the local area to get their food or medications, hitting goals 2 and 3. Or maybe you’ve been providing emotional support to elderly neighbours who are shielding alone, again, hitting goal 3.
Either way, you can shift your definition of social value to include all the good you’re already doing. This way, you have even more data to track and can use the drive and motivation that comes from making a tangible difference to push your efforts forward even more.
Reporting social value
How businesses reacted to the pandemic is going to be essential for forming industry and consumer opinions moving forward. By recognising the pandemic-specific volunteering efforts your staff are engaging in, and finding a way to track and include these in your CSR reports, you become a stronger reporting professional and put your business on the right side of the story.
With these recommendations, we’re talking about large-scale, ongoing, social value generation. No easy feat. But the chances are your business is more than able to manage one or some of the things we’ve mentioned. And, even better, there’s every chance your staff already are engaging in these things to some extent.
But to see the benefits that committing to social value brings to your business, you need to be collecting data and evidencing your impact. Otherwise, your efforts will exist in isolation with no real context or acknowledgement.
At Impact, evidencing your social value initiatives has never been easier. Our platform does all the heavy lifting for you, including conversions and outputs. We gather the insights you need to prove your impact, track your ongoing progress, and report your data to stakeholders and investors. Get in touch on 0161 532 4752.