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As the world and its economy continues to rebuild after the effects of Covid-19, it has become more important than ever for both public and private sector organisations to develop impactful strategies that proactively deliver social value.  

Already on the rise before 2020, social value is high on organisations’ agendas, due to the impact of the crisis on people’s health, wellbeing and livelihoods, as well as its wide-ranging societal and environmental implications. 

While social value extends across every area of an organisation, it can be broken down into three distinct categories:  

  • Social – volunteering in the community, hosting community events and charity fundraisers, implementing flexible working policies for staff 
  • Economic – work placements or apprenticeships, employing local people, working with local suppliers, providing career advice, mentoring young people 
  • Environmental – reducing carbon emissions, installing energy-saving infrastructure, using sustainable products and materials, supporting improvements to public spaces.  

In 2013, the Public Services (Social Value) Act came into force, requiring anyone commissioning public services to consider how they can secure wider social, economic, and environmental benefits. It means that, before a public sector procurement process starts, commissioners are asked to think about whether the services they are going to buy or how they are going to buy them could deliver these benefits for their community or stakeholders.  

Many councils provide social value toolkits that offer guidance to support suppliers when considering social value. For example, Manchester City Council developed its toolkit alongside residents, businesses, public services and voluntary community organisations, in which it sets out the vision for the city through to 2025.   

On the private sector side, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outline 17 social and environmental agendas for organisations, governments and the wider community to work towards, including gender equality, climate action, quality education and good health. While the SDGs promote social value for all, they offer a good starting point and have been adopted by leading organisations worldwide. 


Social value in action 

The Co-op is a member-owned organisation known across the UK to serve communities, give profits back to local causes, and partner with like-minded organisations.  

 With rising unemployment due to the pandemic, the Co-op experienced a 30% increase in job applications last year, despite new vacancies falling by 40%. Wanting to help people find work, the Co-op partnered with Omni to develop and launch the Co-op Career Development Hub, an online resource to build employability skills. It was designed to be accessible for all,  and as its a ‘mobile first’ platform, it allows user access for those without a home laptop or PC.  

Since its inception in January 2021, around 4,000 people have used the hub, completing a total of 41,000 activities. The career confidence scores of users increased from an average of 62% on registration to 70% after completing activities. Crucially, at least 95% of people report the hub helped them to gain employment.  

Matt Eyre, Candidate Marketing Manager for the Co-op, said: “We always responded to candidates, but it felt like we could do more by supporting those not successful to find alternative roles . We wanted to live up to our values and demonstrate that these things matter to us..”  You can read more of this case study in this year’s CIPD/Omni Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey. 


Looking to bolster your social value?  

Social value is a long-term, ongoing commitment to doing better by individuals, communities, and the environment and should sit at the heart of your organisation. 

Through tailored solutions and support, Omni empowers organisations across a broad range of sectors to elevate their social impact. To find out more about our work developing the Co-op Career Development Hub and how we can help your organisation meet its social value ambitions, connect with our expert team today.