Welcome to part 2 in our 3 part series on Winning Business through Social Value. This is a guide for construction contractors.
Last week we talked about what Social Value is in terms of government tenders. This week we will talk you through the first 2 critical steps you need to consider when implementing your Social Value strategy to help you win business in construction.
Step One – What Is Your Strategy?
Let’s looks at the question of strategy
To maximise your business and community value, don’t go off ‘half cocked’. Your message to employees, supply chain and clients must be clear and coherent and aligned to your business values. If you are struggling to know where to start, you can ask yourself these 2 key questions:
1. Is there a common thread to the contributions demanded by your clients across different projects?
Whether your projects are local or national, based on new creation or regeneration and repair, what are the local and social requirements across the board?
2. What are your own core social and environmental values that you as an organization would like to convey?
You may need to go back to your mission statement or vision, talk with your board or your management team, but you should have a very clear sense of the values that make your company who you are and what you want others to know about you.
Combine your answers to these questions to define 3 – 5 ‘pillars’ to your CSR & Social Value Strategy. Typical examples are:
- Employment and skills
- Community and Volunteering
- Local Economic Benefit
- Health and Wellbeing
These pillars will guide the decisions you make and how you want your social value strategy to be formed.
Once you’ve set these pillars, decide what the outcomes (or ‘metrics’) are that you will need to accurately track and report.
You will want to be able to demonstrate your social and environmental activities and so these must be monitored and reported. The most common examples we see, include:
- Graduate placements
- Apprenticeship weeks
- Community donations
- Community days volunteering
- Local SME spend under 10,20,30,40 miles
- Spend with social enterprise
- Waste diverted from landfill
- Construction waste produced
Have 3-5 core outcomes per ‘pillar’. You will then have 10-20 areas which are your core outcomes. Track these for every project – you will then have a reliable framework to use to confidently demonstrate your company’s social and environmental contribution.
Layer in additional metrics as and when they are required by your clients for individual projects. Make sure you are asking your clients what their local needs are at the beginning – don’t assume they remain unchanged from project to project. Work with them to provide what they need.
Note: some of your outcomes/metrics will need a ‘proxy value’ to convert from units measured to a £ measure of social value (e.g. apprentice weeks worked). Proxy values can be obtained from a number of freely available public sources (a good consultant will be able to advise) or from one of the many commercially available frameworks.
Step Two – Engagement & Communication
The second step you need to work through is the engagement and ‘buy in’ from your staff and stakeholders. There’s no point in your senior team devising the perfect strategy, if you don’t get acceptance from your supply chain and employees who will be executing and recording your social and environmental contributions on-the-ground at a project level. Part of this comes from step 1 – making sure you are aware of the values that are important to the business and that this is not only conveyed across the board, but ‘lived’.
An easy way to convey the message is to create a simple comms plan. Key attributes of this are:
- Explaining why the business is delivering on social and environmental commitments
- Clearly explaining the specific role each person plays, what tasks they will be expected to complete, and how they will record what they’ve done
- Describing clearly to individuals how their contribution will make a difference to the bigger picture – to society, to the business and ultimately back to their job satisfaction and security
- Reward and recognise achievements – even if it’s a simple ‘thank you’
Other key things to consider are:
- What are the key messages you want to convey about your business values? Continually reinforce these.
- What channels do you use to convey these messages – email, intranet, one-to-one? Only you know your demographic.
- How frequently do you reinforce the message? Also look out for key dates or events in the year e.g. national apprenticeship week.
- Are there incentives for hitting targets?
- How will you report back performance to individuals, both on their own performance and the overall company performance?
This table is a handy little reference tool to keep you in check. Add the necessary elements to your calendar and delegate where appropriate.
So now you know the first two steps to winning more business with Social Value; Define your strategy, keep your message clear and make sure you communicate effectively to all those involved. Next week we will look at how to capture the social value you provide, and how to use this to win the business you need.
Want to read more? Learn what exactly is Social Value.