The new year is a time of reflection, where people often re-evaluate how they can do things differently in the coming years. The same is true of business. 

Lynda Thwaite

Lynda Thwaite

This season, rather than making trite resolutions, it is time to resolve ourselves to enacting real differences. An office bash is always enjoyable, but increasingly, employees want something with a bit more substance.

More than ever, individuals are prepared to select their employer on the basis of their ethical credentials. In fact, one report found that nearly 40% of millennials have picked a job based on the company’s sustainability commitments. HR managers, take note: ethical investment clearly provides a deeper, long-term sense of value and satisfaction, which a handful of post-work pub trips alone cannot rival.

That is not to try and steal the Christmas Party, or to argue for all work and no play. Rather, it is to suggest that social events can be supplemented with projects designed to give back to the community.

Social value

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Here at Sir Robert McAlpine, we have seen the benefits of this community investment first hand. Since delivering funds to more than 40 projects in communities near construction sites through ActionFunder, there has been a noticeable uptake in employee engagement.

And it is not only a question of attracting and retaining talent. Rather, social value investment can drive measurable commercial success. According to Harvard Business Review, companies with a defined social purpose can be up to 50% more likely to push into new markets successfully. Clearly, diversifying your company calendar and including some community projects has economic, as well as attitudinal, upsides. Perhaps most importantly, however, there is an opportunity for long-term change.

‘Social value’ is not just a buzzword; it is a mark of how our values have shifted. Companies have a chance to define their own ethos, and to ensure they are on the right side of change. And it will ensure employees feel a buzz long after the decorations have come down.

Lynda Thwaite is group marketing and communications director at Sir Robert McAlpine