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How to engage your employees with your social value strategy: A practical guide

Getting employees to think about their impact on society and the environment should, of course, be a top priority for any business. Incorporating social value into your business strategy is essential for good corporate governance and needs the full support of the company’s leadership.

While social value strategies may be familiar to work winning teams, how do you make sure the rest of your employees engage with it and are bought in to the concept?

This is up to the executive team and senior managers to make sure social value is a part of the company’s culture.

Employee engagement with the organisation’s social value strategy could be defined as the degree to which employees feel committed, passionate, and aligned with the goals of their organisation’s vision for social improvement. 

But why is this important?

Studies have shown that engaging employees with your social value strategy can greatly improve organisational performance, profitability, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, productivity and retention.

In this article we give you tried and tested, practical ways that any organisation can use to bring employees along on the journey of their social value strategy, giving it the best chance of success and the greatest chance of impact.

Key considerations when embedding social value

The following points should be considered when reviewing your strategy and defining an approach to engagement.

  • What is the company’s impact on the environment, stakeholders, and human rights, and how can a social value strategy address these?
  • What does social value mean for the company and its stakeholders, and how does it align with the corporate strategy?
  • What is the company’s vision for social improvement, and what are its social value objectives and priorities?
  • How will the company gather employee input to shape its vision for social improvement?
  • How will the company communicate its social value vision and strategy internally and externally?
  • How will the company ensure strong employee engagement and participation in its social value strategy?

This is only a brief overview of how to consider your strategy. To understand more, reach out and have a chat, our team can help set your foundations for social value success.

Practical approach to employee engagement in social value

All the above considerations are important and should be addressed together however here we will focus on the element of engaging employees.

Our recommendations are borne of experience and drawn from our practical application of embedding social value in our customers’ organisations. 

Step 1: Establish a Social Value Committee

The senior leadership team should form a social value committee to define the company’s sustainability goals, set social value objectives, create a strategy, and establish the necessary systems, processes, and governance.

Step 2: Create an Employee Engagement Plan

Building a strong culture is key to creating an effective employee engagement plan.

Culture is about winning employees’ hearts and minds through listening, understanding, and compassion. Encourage employees to incorporate social value into their actions by fostering an environment where everyone feels safe to share their thoughts and ideas.

A successful employee engagement strategy should make every employee feel connected to the company’s social value goals. They should understand the company’s social value objectives and strategy, have easy access to social value initiatives, and have many opportunities to participate.

Practical measures include:

  • Training
  • Interactive quizzes
  • E-coping initiatives
  • Daily impact awareness campaigns
  • Social value newsletters with case studies and human stories
  • Role modelling
  • Community engagement workshops
  • Volunteering activities schedule
  • Recognition programs

Step 3: Implement the Employee Engagement Plan

Implement the social value employee engagement plan in the following sequence:

  • 1. The social value committee decides on the focus areas for employee engagement to create an action plan. This could include social value awareness, education and training, resource allocation, volunteer recruitment, and external partnerships.
  • 2. The committee appoints a Social Value Lead to manage the action plan. This could be an internal champion, an interested employee, an external hire, or a consultant.
  • 3. The committee sets a budget and key milestones for the plan. The outcomes should be approved by the company’s top leadership.
  • 4. The Social Value Lead assembles a team to execute the action plan and ensure timely delivery of milestones.
  • 5. The team provides regular updates to the wider team and senior management, who can suggest adjustments if needed.
  • 6. In companies where social impact is crucial, we recommend a more involved approach, including:
    • Volunteering schemes and policies
    • Mandatory social value training
    • Linking social value progress to KPIs and performance evaluations
    • Updating corporate policies to include social value
    • Seeking social value accreditation
    • Incorporating social value in internal and external communications
    • Including social value in job descriptions
    • Measuring employee engagement and participation
    • Referencing social value policies in every tender even if it is not requested
    • Integrating social impact KPIs in every contract
    • Mandating social impact reporting on every contract
    • Rewarding employees for social value achievements
    • Selecting supply chain partners based on their commitment to social value
    • Hiring external auditors to verify social value claims

Step 4: Measuring Employee Engagement and Participation

Making social value and impact reporting a part of daily business is essential for any company with a sustainability strategy. Social value reporting software can help track employee volunteering hours, quantify social initiatives, and measure the socio-economic impact of the company’s social value strategy.

Engage with employees directly to understand their views and concerns about the social value strategy. Consider language and cultural differences, attitudes toward hierarchy, and other factors when gathering feedback. Employee willingness and pride in giving back can be key indicators of engagement.

We recommend regular employee consultations through surveys and polls at various stages:

  • When setting social value objectives and defining the strategy
  • Regularly throughout the year via:
    • Pulse surveys
    • One-on-one meetings
    • Quarterly leaderboards
    • Annual engagement surveys
    • Net Promoter Scores (NPS)

Conclusion

Now is a crucial time for businesses to support the UN SDGs and work towards a more sustainable future. As we aim to meet today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs, employee engagement on critical issues like climate change, poverty, and inequality should be at the forefront of the company’s values and actions.

Encourage employees at all levels to consider the impact of their roles on the environment, stakeholders, and human rights.

Don’t struggle alone! If you need assistance in creating your social value strategy or want advice on how to embed this within your organisation, reach out; one of our social value consultants would be happy to review your options.