Human beings are social creatures, and, with lockdown in full swing once again, many of us feel like we’re missing out on being social at the moment. But being social creatures isn’t just about having a social life.
A while ago I became aware of social learning, which is essentially about how we learn from others, whether through peer-to-peer learning groups, blogs, wikis or discussion forums. Even though it’s less formal than traditional ‘classroom’ courses, social learning brings valuable benefits such as fostering conversation and collaboration.
Many of you will already be familiar with the idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR), whereby organisations become socially accountable through initiatives such as environmental sustainability or supporting staff to undertake volunteering. Velocitii is a strong advocate of the latter, with 62% of our workforce having taken part in voluntary work in the last 12 months.
Another ‘social’ element at play in many workplaces is social value.
Why we’re embracing social value
At Velocitii, we’ve been thinking a lot about social value recently. Public sector organisations are encouraged to consider social value when they procure products and services, but what exactly is it and how do you do it?
Social Value UK defines it as “the value that people place on the changes they experience in their lives.” In business, social value looks at the wider financial and non-financial impacts of the work we do, including how we impact the wellbeing of individuals and communities, social capital and the environment.
As an example, by setting up a community of practise, benefits can be generated such as team-building, shared knowledge, enhanced relationships and feelings of fulfilment. As well as community-type initiatives, social value can be generated around diversity and inclusion, sustainability and wellbeing.
Social value is something that’s taken on increasing importance for Velocitii as we’ve grown, but the pandemic has really put things into focus for us. Read on to find out more about how we’ve already begun to embed social value and what we plan to do next.
What we’re already doing in the social value space
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)
D&I is at the heart of who we are, as demonstrated in the diversity report we published last year. We promote the importance of D&I online and it is embedded within our recruitment and people strategy.
We’re always considering not only how we can maintain the excellent diversity we already have in our organisation, but also how we can improve diversity across the digital sector. For example, during a recent panel event on digital delivery in a pandemic, we participated in a gender-balanced panel and led discussions on inclusive engagement activities, amplifying diverse voices in teams and geographically diverse talent pools.
Supporting the next generation
As a provider of expert resources to our external clients, it would be easy for us to think that we cannot provide opportunities for those with little or no experience. However, we strongly believe in playing our part to build a diverse pipeline of digital talent for the future.
We believe it’s important to promote the amazing careers the digital sector can offer to people who might not otherwise be aware - something that is particularly resonant at a time when other sectors are struggling. This is why we’ve set up a variety of early career opportunities, to support young people to get their first experience in the digital sector.
We recently offered our first summer internship to a college student from a lower socio-economic background. Afterwards, she told us that her eyes had been opened to careers that she would otherwise never have known were an option for her, and she is now looking into doing a digital apprenticeship once she leaves school.
We have also employed a university leaver from a non-technical background into our core team, who has discovered that the digital sector is developing her strengths whilst supporting her to pursue personal passions.
Last year we hired an apprentice and were able to offer him experience within a multi-disciplinary digital team. This exposure to the sector, coupled with career development conversations and support, empowered him to gain his first full-time role as a Junior Product Manager towards the end of the year, which was fantastic news.
Our commitment in this area has never been more important with the impact of the pandemic on the jobs market and opportunities for young people.
Last year we invested time into establishing an online, informal learning community. The topic was the complicated legal process of TUPE and we brought together professionals from across the public sector.
Over and above our collective improved capability, there was further value for all of us in the supportive network of committed individuals that was created. We have helped each other through the get-togethers and subsequent conversations, and in doing so we have generated feelings of inclusivity and fulfilment.
Partnership with other organisations
In the last year, Velocitii has started to collaborate with organisations who share similar values around social value.
For example, we began to build a partnership with the mental fitness app MyArkeo, to support and prioritise the wellbeing of our team - not just during the pandemic, but on an ongoing basis.
We also recently started working with a recruitment agency with a strong emphasis on social responsibility. With so much competition out there in this agency space, their focus was a distinguishing factor for us and something which really set them apart.
What’s more, we have started to have conversations with local government clients with a view to providing opportunities such as shadowing experiences for their apprentices.
Our social value plans for 2021
This year we have big plans to do more in the social value space, including:
- developing our early career opportunities into a more formal programme
- continuing to support our people to volunteer and give back to the community
- ensuring we operate with strong ethics and environmentally-friendly practises
- prioritising diversity and inclusion in our recruitment
- looking for more ways to support the wellbeing of our team members and those we work with
Keep your eyes peeled for future blog posts or follow us on Twitter to hear more about our plans. For now, we would love to hear what you think of what we’re doing and what ideas you have to generate social value within your own organisation.
Also, if you work in an organisation with similar values and would like to partner with us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.