Sustainability is made up of a range of critical business considerations, traditionally comprised by the three broad areas of marketplace, workplace and the environment. However, in order to boast a truly all-encompassing sustainability programme, businesses must challenge the traditional model in which the first three areas are often considered obligatory and the fourth discretionary. If your organisation is new to the process of engaging the community, here are our 5 key ways to running a meaningful community engagement programme:
1. Assign high-level and operational ownership
For any project to be successfully delivered someone must be responsible for it. Lack of ownership is where the green agenda often fails before it’s even started. With 51% of prospective employees stating they wouldn’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social and environmental commitments, management need to talk to employees to find out what their expectations are for a community engagement programme, since they’ll be a big part of executing it.
Volunteering shows that you are willing to give your time to be a part of something bigger than you or your business.Better than just volunteering by yourself would be to organise your employees to volunteer at an organisation together. The 2011 Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey, which targeted employed adults aged 21-35 found that even if people do not generally volunteer in community engagement activities, the majority (61%) consider a company’s commitment to the community when making a job decision. It is also an opportunity not only to develop staff skills, such as teamwork and communication, but to foster a sense of purpose and a positive culture within the company, increasing morale and motivation.
3. Have a presence at local events
Most communities host festivals or fêtes throughout the year. Events such as these are great opportunities to get out there and meet people. Set up a table, run special promotional activities and get to know the community. The Big Lunch (June 3rd) is a great example of an event that brings huge benefits to local communities. Tell your employees about it and find out how you can contribute as an organisation.
4. Make community activities exciting
To get the whole community involved in what you are doing, you have to make it exciting and provide people with an opportunity to get involved in making their area a better place to live. Honest face-to-face interaction between your employees and residents can help to build trust and forge new relationships.
5. Measure success
Success can be measured in a number of ways, including analysing participation rates from both employees and community members. However, the key results of your efforts will come to light in conversations with your employees and community partners, both of which are valuable sources for qualitative and quantitative feedback.
To drive ongoing success, meet regularly with community members and assess your approach, this will help identify problems and make adjustments if needed. It also provides an opportunity to uncover synergies that can be beneficial to your business.