“What’s the ROI?”

This is one of the most common questions asked when a company looks to us to help them build a Culture of Good. A company’s return on investment is a factor that cannot be overlooked because it helps quantify an organization’s reasoning behind decisions that affect their bottom line.

The Culture of Good does impact the bottom line, and does so through inspiring employees to ignite positive change in the world.

So what does ROI have to do with a “Culture of Good?” Asking what a company’s ROI is can affect the motivation for identifying it’s cause and investing toward it. If a company only gives back to their cause because they recognize the payoff, it shows that they have missed a major “Why” of the Culture of Good. If a company recognizes that that the payoff allows for them to do greater good and invest even more in their cause efforts then they have discovered their “Why”. This in turn will increase profits and that’s when they hit their sweet spot and the Culture of Good begins.

Many of us have heard the story of the boy walking along the shore of a beach following a storm that left thousands of starfish stranded on the sand. Nearby, a man watches as the boy throws the starfish back into the water one by one. Intrigued, the man approaches the boy and asks why he’s throwing the starfish back one at a time. The man states that there are thousands of starfish on the beach and he won’t make a difference. The boy responds by reaching down and picking up another starfish and throwing it back into the water. As he does this, he says, “It makes a difference for that one.”

This is where a new concept comes into play. Not only are companies asking, “What is the ROI?”, they are now asking, “What is the VOI?” Now the value on investment, or the VOI, must be considered. It may be hard to quantify an investment when a company goes out of its way to give back to one family in a community, whether they are giving a backpack to a child that needs one or spending extra time with a customer to make sure they feel a part of their culture. While it’s hard to quantify in dollars for usually the first 18 months, it’s easy to see the positive effect on others.

It’s not that companies should stop asking what the ROI is, but rather what they need to do to make sure their ROI and VOI are working together in a symbiotic relationship.

Does that one customer matter? Do the company’s values drive their decision making and do their employees share those values? How much value does the company see in caring for its employees to recognize and reward their efforts to make the company great? It may not make sense for the ROI in the short term, but if it makes sense for the VOI in the long term, then it’s the right thing to do.

The VOI will take care of the ROI naturally. It always does.

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