Impact Metrics: Why, What, & How
“Made from sustainable materials.”
“Environmentally friendly production process.”
“We’re committed to serving our community.”
“Employee centric policies and benefits.”
This list could go on and on. But these four statements, and the rest of the unwritten list, have something in common: they mean nothing and sound like everyone else’s. In a shifting business landscape, where everyone has a commitment to everything they think consumers and employees care about, words don’t mean much anymore.
Consumers and employees, especially Millennials and GenZ’s that make up half of the workforce (the oldest Millennial is 43 this year), know vague when they see it. Empty statements stand out when they see them, even if you are a good company. In short, they can smell your empty commitments, your greenwashing, your wokewashing, your BS from a mile away. It’s time to start setting actual goals and tracking those metrics–and it’s time to share that information. For more on why, check out a 2022 blog post we wrote on the subject.
Find a Driver
Regardless if your company is big or small, somebody has to drive the metrics and your progress towards achieving your goals. Photo by Brett Sayles.
Before we even discuss what metrics to track, we have to engrain them into your company culture. For them to stick, there must be buy-in and these numbers, these goals, must be tracked the same as any other key performance indicator (revenue, sales, etc.). We highly recommend empowering someone on your team to own these metrics and to allocate appropriate time for them to get the job done. Without someone driving the car, and holding leadership accountable, impact metrics can quickly fall by the wayside.
At a smaller company, this is probably a part-time role for someone with a passion for this type of work. At a larger company, this can be a full-time role. Before I started Profitable Purpose Consulting, I spent six years working for the largest B Corp in Georgia, Ad Victoriam Solutions. For the first several years, culture and impact were a part-time role on top of my job as Director of Operations. Somewhere between 60-75 employees, splitting these roles became too much for one person–we hired and trained an operations replacement and I moved full-time into the position of Director of Culture & Strategic Impact.
Select Your Metrics
Select metrics that work–and matter–to your business. We promise it’s more fun that selecting paint colors. Photo by Steve Johnson.
There are some fairly standard metrics to track and most are based on the questions in the B Impact Assessment, which is the gold standard for companies to measure their impact–it also forms the basis for B Corporation certification. Let’s talk about some of them:
- Volunteer Hours: Tracking volunteer hours (and employee participation) helps you track two great metrics: % of revenue donated & % of employee participation in volunteer time off. Something as simple as a Google Sheet or a timecard option can track this (along with constant reminders).
- Pro Bono Hours: If your company does pro bono work, keep a log. First off, this is a good way to make sure the project stays on budget. But second, it’s a great way to determine how much of your product or service, as a % of revenue, was donated.
- Employee Engagement: If you’re not surveying your team, you should be–it’s an incredibly powerful tool. How happy is your team? How much do they like their teammates? How challenging is their work? You can make all the claims in the world, but if your employees aren’t satisfied or engaged, you’ll be left scratching your head wondering why your top people are leaving and the talent pipeline has slowed to a trickle.
- Employee Demographics: Even if you don’t think you are tracking this information, your HR team or PEO does. You should be tracking age, gender, and racial/ethnic demographics at a minimum. If you can track additional information like sexual orientation, even better.
- Employee Tenure by Demographic: If you’re committed to building an inclusive workspace, this metric is a must. Recruiting diverse talent is great, but retaining it is just as important.
- Applicant Diversity: The only way to build a diverse team with the best talent is to ensure you’re attracting a diverse applicant pool. The canary in the coal mine, this metric is a key predictor of successful, diverse teams.
- Environmental Footprint: It’s 2023 and you better be tracking this, even as a small or medium sized business. Your office, your remote team, that flight to visit a client–they all have a footprint. Nonprofit organizations like We Are Neutral are great at providing footprint calculations and investing your carbon offsets in trustworthy sequestration projects.
Track Your Metrics:
Set goals, track progress, and course correct when necessary. But you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Photo by Lukas.
How often do you check your sales funnel? How often do you look at monthly revenue projections? To truly walk the walk, you must be just as interested in your impact metrics. Whoever you assign should be running these numbers at least monthly and checking on progress towards company goals and commitments.
This information can be used to set or switch strategies. If you’re target is 1,500 volunteer hours and the company is trending towards 1,200, a company volunteer event can be planned. If the applicant pool is lacking diversity, you can meet with marketing and HR and discuss what’s working and what isn’t with the current recruiting approach.
Consistently tracking these metrics throughout the year will give you enhanced visibility and increase your chances of sharing your company’s measurable impact throughout the year and in your annual impact report (check out ours here).
Sharing Your Success
The best part of tracking impact metrics? Releasing your Annual Impact Report! And countless other blogs and social media posts throughout the year.
In a world where everyone is touting their commitment to being a business that cares, it’s important that we talk about our impact and earn the recognition you deserve. This can be done throughout the year as a part of your greater marketing strategy–regular blog posts, social media posts. As long as you’re following the rules and shining the spotlight away from you, you should share this authentic content.
We’re also firm believers in publishing an annual impact report. While these are normally reserved for large corporations as formal shareholder reports, small and medium sized businesses can benefit from the increased transparency of sharing impact goals and outcomes (as an added bonus, it’s also wonderful content for a standalone blog and multiple social posts).
In our next blog, we share best practices for writing a simple annual impact report, including what to include and how to package it. If you follow the steps in this blog, the report should be a fairly straightforward exercise, albeit a powerful one.
If you’re interested in learning more about best practices for setting up your impact metrics, tracking your impact, storytelling, or anything in between, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Read more about Creating an Annual Impact Report here.