When we talk about creating value, our mind focuses on the pounds and pence. How can a project – an investment – generate a return?
At its coldest extreme, this mindset helps the health and safety professional assert that as well as the fundamental good practice of reducing risk and harm, investing in prevention is investing to save – as it can reduce levels of sickness, absence and litigation.
But zooming out from the profession, what is currently being played out in boardrooms, management suites and back offices around the world is a quiet revolution. Across sectors, there is a growing understanding that true long-term financial value relies on ensuring that investment secures a wider set of social, economic and environmental outcomes, considered among a wider set of stakeholders.
Companies are not looking at wellbeing issues because just for their CSR plans or branding and PR benefit, but because it makes good business sense.
Look at British Land’s 2020 strategy, which says that by designing for wellbeing and supporting communities to build trust they will ‘drive preference’ among occupiers. While social value might be hard to measure, the likes of the Crown Estate are now quantifying their ‘total contribution’ to wider society.
Wellbeing has gone from being a ‘fuzzy’ concept to something with hard science behind it. But companies can’t go it alone. Strategies will orient towards creating ‘shared value’ through ‘collective impact’ approaches. But pay attention: there is a money to be made, in property development and beyond, if we get the wellbeing economics right.
Jonathan Schifferes is associate director, Public Services and Communities, RSA.
Jonathan will be speaking at the 24th annual Capita Safety lecture which takes place on Wednesday 14th October at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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