The first article in the series of building the social innovation business case explored how social innovation can help a company unlock their purpose in a practical and tangible way. This is important because it is a key driver for recruiting the next generation of high-quality employees.

This article will delve into the challenge of attracting and retaining top talent. As the global workforce continues to shift, it is important that companies have the ability to attract and retain top talent in order to build a competitive advantage.

A. The Business Problem

Attracting and retaining talent is consistently on the minds of senior business leaders. According to McKinsey, superior talent is up to 8 times more productive. The business case pretty much writes itself. More talent = more productivity. So you would expect that leaders would be getting this right.
However, McKinsey also found that 82 per cent of companies don’t believe they recruit highly talented people.

The challenge for business is being able to prove authentic and real purpose in the way their company operates and plays a positive role in society. Every business has a purpose, but not many businesses are purpose led. There is a fundamental difference and the next generation workforce are more clued in than ever.  This is where social innovation strategy can provide a powerful narrative with real proof points to attract top talent.

B. The Role of Social Innovation

Social innovation offers a powerful way to communicate the purpose, culture and impact of the business. Attracting talent can be done by using social innovation proof points in the branding and communication of the business.
2 ways to capture the business opportunity:

1. Purpose Led Branding

The recruitment process must start with the brand and the perception it has in the market. Purpose led brands are connecting with the next generation workforce. PWC’s recent Workforce of the Future Report found that 88% of Millennials (I hate the ‘M’ word, but hey, that’s what they used!) want to work for a company whose values reflect their own. By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will have purpose led employees seeking companies that align with their values.

2. Social Innovation Talent Program

A talent program is a great way to direct resources to social innovation as well as creating opportunities for top talent to engage in purposeful work.  It allows employees seeking purpose led initiatives to be able to execute on them whilst still focusing on the core company objectives. This could be through a secondment program where teams who are actively developing and delivering social innovation initiatives (eg: products, services, CSR, Philanthropic foundation teams, as well as external partnerships) can receive extra expertise from another division.
This also develops stronger relationships across business divisions which is known to increase effectiveness and engagement.

C. The Business Opportunity

The business benefits of having a social innovation strategy to attract talent can be seen through:

  • Retention: Replacing an employee can cost 150% of the employee’s salary due to loss of work and recruitment.
  • Productivity: More engaged employees drive more effective and efficient outcomes with HBR finding that employees who have meaningful work spend one additional hour per week working, and take two fewer days of paid leave per year. Based on their established job satisfaction to productivity ratios, they estimate that highly meaningful work will generate an additional USD$9,078 per worker, per year.
  • Customer experience: Employees who are actively engaged will generate a better experience for customers.

D. Case Study: Boston Consulting Group

As part of their core business, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) offer programs where employees can apply to do secondments into social impact consulting work.
The secondments allow employees to work with some of the world’s top Foundations, Not For Profits and Community Organisations.

The intention is for employees to have the opportunity for employees to use their skills, learn about new industries and bring those insights and values back into the workplace after their secondment. Each year over 300 social impact projects are undertaken globally, each with measurable social impact.

The value creation of this program is shown through:
Business value:

– New market opportunities to consult and provide services
– Purpose led initiatives to retain high performing employees
– New skills and experience for employees outside ‘traditional’ consulting projects

Social value:
– NFPs, Foundations and Community Organisation receive access to top talent and resources to enable their social impact
– BCG offer new networks and connections between sectors to drive innovative partnerships and greater impact.

E. The Metrics

  • % engagement levels of employees actively involved in social innovation projects
  • # employees retained for over 12 months (especially monitoring graduate pathways)
  • # employees requesting to be involved in social innovation programs
  • % decrease attrition rate in departments that actively deliver social innovation projects

Key Takeouts

  • Social innovation strategy enables a business’ purpose which is key to attracting and retaining the next generation of top talent.
  • Creating a competitive internal talent program that allows employees to work on social innovation opportunities can help to retain top talent as well as further the social innovation strategy.

Act Today!

  • Assess your business’ purpose led culture by asking these questions:
    • Do employees live out the business’ purpose?
    • What makes the culture any different from any other?
    • How often do your managers and colleagues talk about the business’ purpose?
    • Do you genuinely believe that your business is driving a purpose that is beyond just profit?
  • Organise a meeting with your manager to discuss your reflections and see how you can create a purpose led culture using some practical steps (see Tools and Resources) for guidance.

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