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Having an Impact

It should come as no surprise to anyone that people want to have an impact on the world in which they live. After all, who doesn’t want to see their own actions having a positive effect on the world?

Research from Deloitte shows that having a social impact is a key factor when considering the attitude consumers have towards your company. Furthermore, another piece of research - also from Deloitte - has shown that in the wake of the pandemic, millennials are more inclined to make decisions based on their desire for positive social change. The research also showed that employees’ values are increasingly reflective of social issues such as inclusion and diversity, as well as environmental issues. Among both millennials and generation-Z, environmental issues emerged as the most pressing issue on their minds which had an impact on their decision-making as both employees and consumers.


require a second layer.

What is your why?

How do you impact the world?’

Annette Rubin CEO HydroPeptide

What do we mean by impact?

It is clear, then, that the social and environmental impact plays a role in people’s thinking, particularly for the younger generations. What is less clear, however, is precisely what is meant by impact, and how it can be communicated effectively to consumers and employees. Loosely speaking, impact can be thought of as simply the tangible effect or influence something has on something else. In the context of business and technology however, the meaning of impact has a slightly more refined meaning.

When we speak about impact, we usually refer to specific types of effects (whether desired or not): social impact, cultural impact, or environmental impact, for instance.

Impact at work

The other reason why impact is important in business is because of the effect that it has on employee fulfilment. We know that if employees feel an authentic connection between their work and the impact it has on others, they will be more likely to enjoy their job - say Catherine Bailey and Adiran Madden, in MIT Sloan Review. It stands to reason that if people are enjoying their job, and can perceive a tangible link between their work and its impact, that they will not only work more effectively at their job, but remain in their position for a longer period. In this sense, drawing a clear and direct line between action and impact can be considered an efficiency measure: by having employees who understand the impact they are having and its connection to the role they fulfil, employers will end up with better employees.

From a CEO perspective

Impact can also be used by CEOs to curry favour with the public, by taking stances on political and moral issues. Josh Bersin, referring to a recent study in Harvard Business Review, observed that ‘customers were 40% more likely to buy from companies whose CEOs took positions they felt good about than those who did not’. What this tells us is that if a company is seen to have an interest in a specific kind of impact (social, cultural, environmental), then this can play to their advantage, as individuals will be more likely to buy products and services from companies with which they are ethically or politically aligned.

Can anyone have an impact at work?

But what of individuals, rather than employers and employees? People often find that their true capacity to have an impact is limited by the constraints placed upon them by the way society encourages them to work. By this, I mean that the labour market does not typically allow for individuals to pursue more than one type of work, or rather encourages people to specialize in one very precise area of work. One result of this might be that people’s true potential becomes stunted by the myopic nature of their chosen field, and will never be able to accomplish what they want to for fear of failure, or fear of losing favour with their employer. In turn, this becomes a kind of soft power which can be wielded by employers to the detriment of their employees.

If people are afraid to leave and realize their potential, they will forever be unable to achieve it, and the result is a labour market in which employers view employees as assets rather than as individuals.

But speaking more broadly, people - according to their circumstances - are discouraged from following their true passions and are instead encouraged to conform to what is deemed to be a successful or lucrative area of work. People do this for multiple reasons: money, status, and above all, security are driving factors.

A different mindset is needed

On the face of it, the solution to this problem might seem simple, but it would require radical changes to the way employers and individuals think about work. Workers need to be free to take control of their true value, not as employees, but as individuals, and to reclaim their own potential. Perhaps in the coming years, there might be some kind of framework, facilitated by new technologies and innovations in how people work, which may address this problem. At TiiQu, this is what we are working towards.

This is the fifth of 8 articles aimed at discussing the aspects of individual fulfilment for the future of work. Sign up here! See Meritocracy for whom? here Why meaningfulness matters here.

image : Arek Socha from Pixabay

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