Similarly, Empowered Women International is an organization that has seen noteworthy achievements, thanks to the motivation and engagement of its volunteers. The nonprofit, established in 2002 with offices in Alexandria and Rockville, Md., provides a three-month intensive Entrepreneur Training for Success course, along with ongoing business coaching, networking and support services to train hundreds of disadvantaged women to start new jobs and small businesses. The successes of the ETS program help move the needle for the economy, as 58 percent of participants saw their production increase, 49 percent boosted their personal incomes and 34 percent had plans to hire additional employees. They were also inspired to give back, with 90 percent volunteering with a local organization and 83 percent donating to charitable organizations.
Underpinning the success of these local social enterprises doing good are highly engaged and motivated workforces designed deliberately for the purpose of sustaining creativity and innovation to make a difference in people's lives.
One way leaders can think like social enterprises and inspire and motivate employees with a greater sense of purpose is by telling stories about how the organization's service or product made an impact for clients or communities, and how employees can make similar contributions. Employees often connect with stories, they take pride in them and they share them with others. This often goes hand-in-hand with an organization's ability to report results of workforce engagement and satisfaction using indicators and data that show effectiveness or outcomes, such as improvement in local decision-making, organizational culture and workforce knowledge sharing.
In today's knowledge economy fueled by out-of-the- box thinking and innovation, a highly engaged and motivated workforce is becoming a necessary ingredient to improve business productivity and competitiveness. For those who seek to improve business performance and productivity, local social enterprises might have as much to teach us about the importance of motivation and engagement as doing good.
Bewick is a social entrepreneur-in-residence at the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.