Social enterprises are agents of socio-economic and environmental change. Over the last decade, social enterprises have proved to be a beacon of meaningful, positive and sustainable intervention towards social impact. As with any organization, finding the right talent is crucial for a social enterprise. However, it becomes significantly challenging for a social enterprise because of its social mission driven approach towards business. Here, we briefly try to understand the key aspects of attracting and motivating talent for a social enterprise.
Employer Branding Helps Choose the Right Talent for Your Organisation
The unique or distinguishing feature of any social enterprise apart from is its work culture and its professional values is its grand vision towards making a sustainable change in the society. Clearly, attracting potential employees to its cause dictates talent acquisition techniques.
Victoria Lynden, Founder of Kohana Coffee gets candid about why a social enterprise needs employer branding.
“The first reason is that you want employees who’ll bring a high level of energy and heart to your company who will overcome challenges presented by tight budgets and scarce resources. You want to position yourself as a unique and, most importantly, fulfilling employment destination in order to attract that kind of talent—especially since you can’t usually afford to pay top dollar. You have to compete on other things. Whatever you can offer in the way of extras or attitude. You also want to attract like-minded souls, kindred spirits who share your values and lessen the internal frictions that come when employees don’t get what you’re about. Employer branding is crucial to building that kind of simpatico staffing.”
Getting the right talent at both, the executive level and the ground staff pose different challenges in themselves which is why social enterprises need to direct their efforts towards employer branding activities.
“You need a team, to make your vision of creating an impact, work. And it means you pick your band members right, who share your vision. It means taking difficult decisions, it means keeping their motivations up. It means empowering them to succeed and it also means, being responsible for their well-being. ” – Rahul Panicker, Embrace Innovations
Leadership & Managerial Talent Gets Excited More By Impact Than Money
Hiring at this level is very sensitive and painstaking because these are the people who are instrumental in materializing a social enterprises’ mission, managing its interventions and ensuring its smooth functioning. CEOs, Program Managers, Communication Directors, Regional Heads, and such play a key role in creating and sustaining an organization’s impact. Most often than not they deeply care about their personal contribution in bringing about social change.
We spoke to Aniket Doegar, CEO and Co-Founder of Haqdarshak on how do they go about identifying the right people at an executive level.
“Hiring at the top-level is always tough for social enterprises. The biggest challenge is to recruit highly qualified, experienced and motivated individuals. We basically use a word of mouth approach which works best rather than using the regular channels like recruitment agencies or online platforms. The biggest requirement is to have someone stick around long enough to show impact.”
Candidates applying at this level in the organisation come from a rich academic background with specializations in core subject areas and a strong sense of purpose. For them, self-actualization is the strongest motivator. Being key decision makers, their ideologies and their approach directly shape the impact interventions of their organisations.
Being the top leader of the organisation, it is the social entrepreneur’s duty to empower and look after her employees. Autonomy, social interaction with the grassroots, and reasonable monetary benefits, motivate managerial employees to find their own grow within the organisation’s vision.
Courtney Williams, CEO and Co-Founder of Torsh, an education social enterprise shares his opinion,
“Once we’ve made a great hire, step two is keeping this employee engaged so they are with us for the long haul. This requires making our company mission relevant to their specific functions every day. It’s imperative that they see how what they do – whether it’s sales, accounting, client management or marketing – impacts the company’s products and by extension, our ability to do good in the world. And while the people we hire are not generally motivated by money, we do work to ensure that they are appropriately compensated.”
Although money is never the first priority of people who work in the impact space, regular feedback on how their contribution has helped the organisation’s impact reach is essential.
Full-time Employment And Reasonable Salary Motivate Field Staff
Field staff generally includes members of local communities, local social workers, indigenous artisans, micro entrepreneurs, village salesmen and other such people employed by social enterprises. They are the foot soldiers of any impact organization and deliver its products, programs or services to the last man in the queue. Dynamics of recruiting this talent significantly varies from recruiting managerial employees.
For most members of field staff, full-time employment with a formal organization is a matter of pride. It gives them a sense of self-esteem and this itself is a great motivator for them. Recruiting them locally is the best strategy since they are well conversant with local language, customs and have emotional connects with the local populace.
“The team on the ground level gets taken care of automatically if the top executives hiring is done correctly. Empowering the team leaders to choose their team and supporting them and encouraging them to take chances even if may lead to failure sometimes is key. At the ground level there is bound to be attrition. What works is recruiting locally and having the last say with the team leads.”, Aniket Doegar, CEO Haqdarshak
Empowering people at the ground level is essential and here, ensuring their monetary benefit is a must since most of these people come from underprivileged backgrounds.
“If their monetary needs are taken care of, then empathy will automatically be at their centre of their work towards the organisation and the end community.” – Manjul Menon, BEAD Social Enterprise
Secondly, personal support. Let me explain this with an example shared with me by Manjul Menon, Co-Founder of BEAD Social Enterprise.
“If there are women from the BoP community in your ground staff, making arrangements to look after their children while they are at work, will fuel their dedication towards their work and in turn motivate them to grow personally. Similarly, providing assistance with their family healthcare and their children’s education will increase their involvement and loyalty towards you and your social enterprise.”
While a social enterprise may not have the luxury of using competitive compensation as a carrot, marketing its grand vision for social change to potential leaders and managers, creating a transparent and inclusive culture and empowering its field staff will go a long way in retaining the right talent.