"No Margin, No Mission." Those words struck me today while listening to Alexandra Villoch, President and Publisher of the Miami Herald on a private tour for the Miami Fellows cohort. I googled the phrase later and apparently it's a common business school mantra. New to me, I immediately scribbled it in my pocket-sized notebook to reflect on the power of those words when speaking about social impact companies. According to Villoch, the mission of the Miami Herald is community impact; To improve people's lives through journalistic excellence. The paper's mission is emphasized in every department of the company: the newspaper printers and delivery drivers are aware of an investigative article that leads to an arrest, the advertising department is informed of the article that uncovers government negligence. Villoch's leadership and communication compounds a sense of purpose with a coordinated effort to drive revenue, profit, quality and innovation to fulfill and continually enhance the livelihoods of the Herald's employees and community members.
The correlation between an organization's higher purpose and its contribution to employee retention and engagement is not new. Many employers, however, continue to miss the point: millennial employees state that having meaning in their daily work (83%) and feeling a strong sense of community (56%) are most important at a job as surveyed by PwC. In fact, 56% of employees feel energized when business leaders communicate the company's social impact. In stark contrast, the study shows that business leaders prioritized reputation for innovation and growth (72%) and distinction from competitors (66%) as the most important messages to employees.
Earning profit and having a social purpose are not mutually exclusive. Social impact is not limited to writing a check to a local non-profit either. Community impact can be achieved by recruiting new hires from low economic areas of the city, or prioritizing employee demographics that are consistent with the community in which the organization is located. Impact comes in the form of creating a paid apprenticeship program consisting of young people who were the first in their families to graduate from college, or actively recruiting at veteran job fairs. Impact can mean transitioning an office to electronic files to reduce waste, making the office building more energy efficient, or creating an employee volunteer incentive program. The list goes on and on. Employees will thank their organizations with higher engagement and retention levels, creating a cycle of business excellence.