Economics and Employee Engagement
By KAREN NEOH
IN this week’s Be a Leader, I would like to focus on leaders who firstly, are clear of their goals and objectives; second, realise that the prevailing methods of achieving these goals are ineffective and/or inefficient; and third, have taken the lead to develop and execute their own approach thereby shaping the community they are working for.
When there is a mismatch in employer and employee expectations, there is certainly a direct cost associated with it from poor retention, and the likely need to recruit again.
Indirect costs may include public perception and knock-on effects including employee activism, as well as missed opportunities.
Changing Needs of Talent
According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2014, 74% of millennials believe business can do more to help society. They want to work for organisations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society.
Millennials are eager to make a difference (63% surveyed gave to charities, 43% actively volunteered or were a member of a community organisation).
Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited advises, “To attract and retain talent, business needs to show Millennials it is innovative and in tune with their world-view.
By working together and combining their different skills, business, governments and non-governmental organisations have an opportunity to reignite the Millennial generation and make real progress in solving society’s problems.”
In Malaysia, Gen-Y are also seeking more meaningful tasks in the workplace (Aon Hewitt). The Guardian reports that students in the UK are increasingly setting up social ventures while still studying with 86% stating that it important that their work makes a positive impact globally.
This trend appears to be here to stay as Gen-Zs are also determined to make a difference, with social entrepreneurship being one of the most popular career choices. According to the US Department of Labor (2013), 76% are concerned about humanity’s impact on the planet.
From my experience in the social economy, the adage “birds of a feather flock together”, does hold water.
It is based on this premise that I hypothesise: due to the changing needs and demands of our workforce, setting up social enterprises may indeed be another tool in a business leader’s toolbox for attracting and retaining the right talent.
STRATEGIC PARTNER OF,FOR and BY THE PEOPLE
It is worth noting that the senior Gen-Ys (who share the desire to have jobs with a positive societal impact) have risen through the ranks and themselves taken on more senior roles along the Gen-Xs in organisations.
Coupled with the move to elevate the role of HR to be a more strategic partner of business leaders, key decision-makers may be more and more inclined to put into place social/environmental objectives.
Internal spokespersons and leaders of engagement and corporate culture can communicate these to their workforce.
Externally, brand ambassadors’ can work closely with PR (public relations) and corporate communications on employer branding.
ENABLING AND INSPIRING SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS
On another note, the infrastructure is gradually building to enable and inspire young social entrepreneurs.
The inability to secure funding is often raised as a major impediment to the progress of social enterprises, however with impact investing and social venture funds, those thinking of starting up a social enterprise have more options to do so.
While I am sure I am not the first to consider the linkages between the changing expectations and priorities of generations of employees, the challenges faced by organisations to attract and retain top talent and the possible role of social enterprises in bridging the two, it still excites me to see how people come together in social enterprises.
I firmly believe that an enterprise which transforms to a social enterprise, benefits not only its people, but also the organisation in being better able to achieve its goals.
n Karen is in awe over the truly amazing ability to connect-the-dots that social entrepreneurs have – seeking, seeing and seizing opportunities that checks all the boxes and earns brownie points with multiple stakeholders. For more leadership content, do check out www.leadership.com
Social Enterprises in the UK
THERE are approximately 70,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing £18.5bil to the economy and employing almost a million people.
In the UK, a social enterprise is defined as businesses that have mainly social or environmental aims (Social Enterprise: Market Trends, Cabinet Office 2013), with the criteria:
The enterprise should
1 not pay more than 50% of profit or surplus to owners or shareholders
2 not generate more than 75% of income from grants and donations
3 not generate less than 25% of income from trading
4 agree that it is “a business with primarily social/environmental objectives, whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or community rather than mainly being paid to shareholders and owners”.