Can social good unlock higher profits?News added by Benefits Pro on April 9, 2014

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Allen Greenberg

ORLANDO, Fla. – Doing good can help employers recruit and retain the best talent while boosting their bottom line.

That was the pitch Tuesday from Kelly Elizabeth Behrend, the director of corporate responsibility and strategy for a Virginia-based nonprofit, Peacework Development Fund Inc.

Speaking at the 2014 Human Capital Summit and Expo, Behrend said companies that pursue projects with a positive social impact can expect to see a shift from mere employee engagement to employee empowerment.

That’s a powerful transformation, she said, that engages the “hearts and minds” of employees and can go a long way to fulfilling their quest for meaning in the workplace.

Peacework Development, she said, has spent years working for corporate partners to help them do just that.

She cited a PricewaterhouseCoopers project in Belize as an example, one in which PwC employees, including interns and retirees, have spent parts of each summer in Belize over the past seven years helping to introduce financial literacy and entrepreneurship to schoolchildren. More than 1,000 PwC employees have taken part in the project, she said.

“There are tons of ways that a company can re-appropriate what it does best for social good,” Behrend said.

The key, she said, is to leverage whatever industry expertise a company might have and marrying that to a social need, something that Peacework Development can help employers do.

Social impact projects have the potential to do more than create a better world, she said.

They also can help unlock employee potential, productivity and profitability.

More companies, she said, are recognizing that “sustainable value creation” can improve their employees’ commitment to their work.

According to the 2013 Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report, organizations said they experienced a 240 percent boost in performance-related outcomes when they successfully engaged employees and customers in such endeavors.

Moreover, Behrend noted, 87 percent of consumers consider a company’s social and environmental impact when deciding what to buy or where to shop.

There’s a “cascade” of positive impacts, she said, with improved recruitment and retention of participants in these programs, greater opportunities for training and education, and for companies to build their brand.

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