Collage of images of people volunteering and working together

Having led CSR programs, events, and communications in a variety of environments, I’ve seen firsthand how human-centered and purpose-driven approaches are pivotal for fostering both a thriving company culture and an effective social impact strategy.

In 2023, HP conducted a global survey involving over 15,000 participants across 12 countries to develop a better understanding of the world’s relationship with work. The report focused on six core drivers, which also lead to positive outcomes for employers. As a social impact strategist, the three drivers that resonated most were fulfillment, leadership, and people-centricity.

Inspired by HP’s report data and going a step further, the following tips and strategies are my recommendations for social impact practitioners to address these three drivers:

 

People Centricity:

The report echoes a clear message: prioritize employee well-being. Employees today value open communication, authenticity, and an emphasis on wellness, with 70% of knowledge workers placing higher importance on physical and mental health than work. Based on the data, here are a few ways I encourage my fellow social impact professionals to lead:

1) Design Impactful Engagement Programs: Align employees with your company’s values through meaningful service initiatives, which can also engage employee resource group (ERG) members. Well-crafted giving and service programs align employees with purpose and foster connections, enhancing engagement.

2) Provide Leadership Opportunities + Recognition: Encourage volunteer leadership roles and celebrate their impacts. This not only enhances skills but also promotes company values and aids storytelling efforts.

3) Create Brave Spaces: Only 23% of HP’s respondents indicated that their company culture offers a conducive space for processing complex and challenging emotions. Although this is not solely the responsibility of social impact leaders, this data presents an opportunity to play a critical role in creating environments for open, difficult discussions through relevant programming. When applicable, provide colleagues with the opportunity to discuss and share their experiences with societal challenges and pressing issues. This can aid in unpacking complicated issues, improve well-being, and increase connectivity.

 

Leadership:

Only 20% of the report respondents indicated that senior leaders in their organizations consistently display emotional intelligence. There’s no doubt that expectations around leadership are evolving towards openness and transparency. So how can social impact practitioners bridge the leadership gap?

1) Engage Leaders as Program Champions: Involve senior leaders in your signature social impact programs to drive authentic employee connections. Where feasible, identify leaders who possess a genuine connection to the focus of the initiative.

2) Encourage Transparent Decision-Making: Ensure clarity in decisions related to your company’s social impact, aligning with company values and fostering open communication. This is especially true when responding to emerging and pressing societal issues.

Fulfillment:

Fulfillment is central to a positive work relationship. However, only 28% of the survey respondents stated that their work provides them with a sense of purpose. From a social impact perspective, aligning stakeholders to a common goal is crucial for driving engagement and change. Here are a few recommendations to create meaningful engagement that advances your impact goals while improving workplace fulfillment.

1) Communicate the ‘Why’: Clearly articulate the purpose and impact of initiatives, aligning them with the company’s mission. To do this, it’s important that you have a clear impact model and theory of change to define how you seek to create change and measure results.

2) Go Beyond One-Off Projects: Lunch-and-learns and micro-volunteering are effective for engaging colleagues and promoting a positive culture, but from a fulfillment lens, it’s crucial to offer long-term, impactful volunteer programs that foster personal growth and community change.

3) Support Personal Social Impact Goals: As a part of your corporate social impact strategy, encourage personal volunteerism with initiatives like paid volunteer time off, which only 28% of companies provide their employees as of 2023. Programs like this support employees in becoming changemakers and advocates around societal issues that they are personally passionate about in their communities.

 

Amid the evolving work landscape and its impact on the workforce, these strategies offer a blueprint for social impact practitioners to play a leading role in making their companies great places for their employees to work, grow, and find purpose. 

 

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