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socially responsible

5 Reasons to Implement an Employee Wellness Program


5 Reasons to Implement an Employee Wellness Program

by Kate Vandeveld

If you ask a WhyWhisper team member why they opted for the consulting lifestyle instead of a traditional 9-to-5, they’ll likely tell you that one of the many reasons is to take care of themselves better, both mentally and physically. When you’re working eight or more hours every day, especially at a desk, it can be difficult to find the time to move around or do the things that keep you healthy. But it’s so important!

That’s why we’re so into the recent growth of corporate employee wellness programs that are helping those in more traditional workplaces stay healthy. These days, 70% of employers offer wellness programs – and no longer are they only in the form of gym memberships. There is a plethora of options available to companies who want to create programs that work well for their employee population.

And these programs aren’t just good for employees – they are good for the businesses that implement them, too. Here are some of the reasons why it’s worthwhile to invest in employee wellness:

Attracts Top Talent

Wellness programs are no longer just a competitive advantage for companies – they’re the norm. Prospective employees actively look for these programs when comparing benefits packages, and having them in place could change the type of talent your company is able to attract. The programs subsidize health maintenance costs for employees, and, perhaps more importantly, they also show them that your company cares about them – and that matters to them.

Decreases Turnover

Not only does having a great employee wellness program in place help attract top talent, it also helps to retain it. Studies have shown that when companies care about their employees’ health by offering them opportunities for improved mental and physical wellness, workplace morale increases. Employees that are happier in the workplace and feel a greater sense of loyalty to their employers are less likely to leave, which is good for everyone. Turnover is expensive; studies have shown that the cost of turnover is generally anywhere from 16 to 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary. 

Increases Productivity

On the most basic level, when employees are mentally and physically healthier, they’re more energetic and productive.  In fact, some studies have shown that this is where your company’s employee wellness program will yield the greatest return. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Services reported that at companies with employee wellness programs, workplace productivity increased by anywhere from 2 to 52 percent. This number definitely will vary depending on your programs and your employees, but any increase in productivity is a good thing.

Reduces Insurance Costs

A study by Harvard Business Review showed that the money spent on implementing employee wellness programs comes back to the company in the form of lower insurance costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Services reported that employee wellness programs that include physical activity of some sort reduce healthcare costs by anywhere from 20 to 55 percent, and short-term sick leave by 32 percent. Those numbers alone are enough to prove that, financially, employee wellness programs are worth the initial investment.

Gives You a PR Boost 

Beyond the internal benefits that you’ll see, offering an employee wellness program makes your company look good. It’s something you can talk about on your website, to investors, and in annual reports. The best part is, this isn’t a PR stunt that will look good to the public but do little internally. As we’ve noted, the internal benefits are clear.

As you would expect, the ROI on employee wellness programs depends on a number of factors: the research done in advance, how much a company invests in its programs, and the employees themselves, to name a few. But across the board, the tangible benefits of implementing an employee wellness program are there, and they are worthwhile.

Have you seen (or participated in) any unique or particularly cool employee wellness programs? Tell us about them! We want to spread the word. Get in touch by sending us an email, commenting below, or reaching out on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Your Socially-Conscious Guide to Summer Gear


Your Socially-Conscious Guide to Summer Gear

Now that summer weather is finally here, are you prepping for travel or an outdoor adventure?

You may not yet think of social impact when you think about sunglasses and swimwear, but these days, you can purchase almost anything through a social enterprise (a business with a socially-conscious mission).

Here are some of our favorite summer essentials from amazing companies that are doing well by doing good: 


Sunglasses from Karün

Your Socially-Conscious Guide to Summer Gear -- via WhyWhisper Collective

Looking for the perfect pair of shades? These sunglasses from Karün will set you apart from the crowd – not just because of their unique style, but also because of what they represent. All frames are handmade in Chile with wood and other materials from Patagonia. Rather than cutting down forests for these materials, Karün utilizes only wood from fallen trees. With a strong focus on our connection to nature, they are extremely conscious of their impact on the earth. Their mission is to not only produce high quality sunglasses, but to do it while respecting the planet and encouraging other similar businesses to do the same. You can use their virtual mirror to try on sunglasses, and then order them online here.


Swimwear from La Isla

Your Socially-Conscious Guide to Summer Gear -- via WhyWhisper Collective

Next up: swimwear. If you’re looking to get some beach or pool time this summer, you’re probably on the hunt for the perfect suit. La Isla offers swimwear options for men and women that are both stylish and socially-conscious. La Isla’s mission strongly emphasizes fairness to its employees, as well as the importance of the community they aim to provide to them. Not only are the majority of its employees local to Colombia, where their manufacturing facility is now located, but many of them are also head of household women. Additionally, the company supports a variety of charitable efforts and partners with a number of socially focused initiatives.

Hammock (& Other Camping Gear) from Kammok

Your Socially-Conscious Guide to Summer Gear -- via WhyWhisper Collective

If you’re looking to really kick back this summer, we highly suggest investing in a hammock. And not just any hammock, but the Roo hammock from Kammok. Kammok is a member of 1% for the Planet, an initiative that connects businesses, consumers, and nonprofits to empower them to drive positive, environmental change. Through this initiative, Kammok is paired with CTC International, a nonprofit that helps Kenyan communities develop sustainable solutions to their specific needs around education, environment, economy, health and community development. Kammok also sells other camping gear and apparel, so make sure you take a look at their website before you venture out this summer.


Water Bottle from Klean Kanteen


Your Socially-Conscious Guide to Summer Gear -- via WhyWhisper Collective

As we all know, it’s crucial to stay hydrated in the summer. What’s more, you have probably heard how bad plastic bottles are both for us as well as the environment. So instead of using disposable plastic water bottles, go for a reusable option.  Klean Kanteen offers reusable bottles in a wide variety of sizes and colors, so you have lots of options based on your personal preferences. Like Kammok, Klean Kanteen is a member of 1% for the planet, and gives at least 1% of their profits to initiatives and organizations aimed at preserving and restoring the natural environment. The company also actively supports the Breast Cancer Fund, helping to promote their campaigns around prevention.


Snacks from Peeled Snacks

Your Socially-Conscious Guide to Summer Gear -- via WhyWhisper Collective

When you’re out in the hot summer sun, you’ll likely want to keep a snack on hand to keep your energy high. Instead of just grabbing for something at random (as we all often do), try out these healthy, organic, non-GMO AND gluten-free options from Peeled Snacks. From baked snap peas to dried fruit to trail mix, their snacks are nutritious, and they can easily be taken on-the-go. A certified B-Corporation, Peeled Snacks’ high standards for accountability and transparency make them an excellent option for summer snacking. 


Sunscreen from Burt’s Bees

Your Socially-Conscious Guide to Summer Gear -- via WhyWhisper Collective

Hands down, one of the most essential items on your summer list is sunscreen. But luckily, the days of slimy, thick sunblocks are long gone. One of our favorite options is Burt’s Bees, an amazing line of natural skincare products (including sunscreen and other summer products). Their dedication to responsible sourcing, conscientious packaging, and minimizing their operational footprint is what really makes them stand out. They established the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, a nonprofit that is “dedicated to sustaining charitable, grassroots initiatives that support human and honeybee health” in 2007, and the foundation has donated over $1 million in grants since then.


Skateboard from Comet Skateboards

Okay, so maybe this one isn’t an essential, but we thought it was pretty cool. If you’re looking to take up a new sport this summer, what about skateboarding? If you’re into it, try a board from Comet Skateboards. The designs alone are cool enough to make us want to learn, but the company’s mission is what really seals the deal.   Another certified B-Corporation, Comet is committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility. 


Did you find what you were looking for? Or are there other summer essentials on your list? Share with us. We’ll put the word out and be sure to get the information you need! Here’s how to do it:


Why Shopping Small Business Matters


Why Shopping Small Business Matters

by Kate Vandeveld

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about how you can make a difference during the holiday season – from making more sustainable choices, to purchasing gifts that give back, to shopping small business. And while most of us know that shopping at small businesses is a good thing, we may not entirely know why.


Here are a few of the key reasons why shopping small business is so important:


Boosts Your Local Economy

Buying from small, local businesses boosts the economy in smaller towns, and creates job opportunities in places that need it. In fact, small business job growth is huge: Over the past decade, small businesses have generated over 63 percent of the net new jobs available in the United States, and currently employ almost half of the nation’s workforce. Because small businesses are more likely to purchase their products from domestic manufacturers, by shopping local, you are supporting jobs not just in your own community, but in small towns across the country.


In addition, when you shop at small businesses, you are investing in your local community. When you shop at small businesses, around 68 percent of what you spend will stay in your local economy, versus the 43 percent that stays local when you shop elsewhere. If residents of an “average” American city shifted 10 percent of their spending to local businesses, it would mean an influx of over $235 million into that community’s local economy. Imagine what a difference that would make!


Takes a Stand for Human Rights

When you buy locally, you can take steps to make sure that the products you are buying are not being made by exploited or abused workers. You can ask questions about whether or not small business products were made locally, and where exactly they were made. In addition, 85 percent of small business owners pay all of their employees more than the minimum wage, so it is more likely that you will be supporting fair wages when you shop local. In a recent poll, two out of three small business owners supported increasing the federal minimum wage, as well as readjusting it yearly to keep up with increased cost of living.


On the flipside, shopping small means you won’t be supporting large corporations like Walmart. When you shop at these large corporations, it’s very possible that you will be purchasing products that were made in inhumane conditions, where workers are overworked and underpaid, and sometimes forced to work in unsafe conditions. Walmart employees themselves are overworked and underpaid, so much so that this year, workers protested against the corporation on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The union-backed labor campaign OUR Walmart launched a nationwide strike against the corporation, asserting that they aren’t paid enough to make ends meet. Their demands are simple and fair: they want the option of consistent, full-time work and a wage of $15/hour. These negative working conditions aren’t exclusive to Walmart; large corporations are more likely to pay their workers less than small businesses. 


Has a Positive Environmental Impact


Small businesses have “a deep connection to their communities’ and environments’ needs, and therefore often have an incentive to be good stewards of their surrounding environment.” Because locally-owned businesses generally make their own purchases locally (or at least domestically) as well, they have less of a negative environmental impact when transporting their goods. On the other hand, large corporations almost always get their goods from further away. This means that they frequently rely on aircraft transport, which has greater fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions per mile than any other mode of transport.

Large food corporations also commonly use a great deal more (non-recyclable!) packaging than small farms and grocery stores. Every single day, the average American produces over four pounds of waste, much of which comes from food packaging. By buying food from your local grocery store, you can opt for foods with less packaging and therefore, create less waste. 


Builds Your Local Community

Local business owners are often more invested in your community’s future. So when you support them, you’re investing in the prosperity of your city.  Throughout the United States, only about 34 percent of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, versus 65 percent from local businesses. This means that almost double the amount of the money that you spend at small, local businesses goes directly back into your community. Small businesses are also much more likely to give back, donating 250 percent more to local non-profit organizations and community causes than large corporations.


Beyond their economic contributions, small businesses also support and foster a sense of community that large corporations simply cannot. Small business owners connect and work with one another, and are much more likely to actually care about their customers and the products that they are selling them. Because of this, customer service is often stronger at small businesses. For us, and many others, shopping small business tends to be a much friendlier and higher quality experience. 


If you want to take a step further, you can shop at small businesses that are focused on social impact – we provide some great examples in our holiday gift guide.

So when you’re finishing up your gift shopping this holiday season, keep this in mind: shopping small business is worth it, for the environment, the economy, and your local community.

What are some of your favorite small businesses? We want to make sure the world knows about them! Share with us in the comments below, or get in touch on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram


Sell Your Product First and Your Story Second


Sell Your Product First and Your Story Second

by Shanley Knox

 Nowhere has business become more purposeful than in the world of social enterprise. New businesses are constantly cropping up with world-changing missions, messages of empowerment, and products to address even the worst of society's issues.

In a world where nearly half of global consumers are willing to pay extra for socially responsible products and services, it's becoming a growing challenge for social enterprises to stand out against other cause-oriented products and services. 

In his recent piece, “Social Enterprises Must Move Beyond Purpose,” Heath Shackelford writes that, “your customers only allow your purpose to be a factor if you meet other criteria, including price, quality and value.”

To differentiate your social enterprise, begin by providing the best possible product or service. Then, market it like a successful business would - through effective research, market differentiation, and smart brand messaging. Afterward, tell a social story that illustrates the power of what a successful social business can do.

Here are some steps to get you started:  

Learn Your Market
Before you plan for marketing to your market, you’re going to need to know who they are. Begin by determining factors such as what kind of customer is going to pay for your product or service, and where you can find them.

Some key questions:

  • Approximately how many people out there are willing to pay for your product?
  • What amount are they willing to pay for your product or service?
  • Where are these people located?
  • What are these people interested in?
  • Who is already marketing a similar product to them, and how do you measure up against them?

Find Your Unique Selling Point 
Many social enterprises focus on the social benefits of their product, rather than focusing on the value and quality of their product itself. Now that you know who your customer is, and who else is selling to them, it’s time to identify your unique selling point... in other words, what makes your product or service more attractive than anyone else’s? 

  • Research your customer’s satisfaction with their current products or services: What do they love? What would they want to change? Why?
  • Are there certain messages that are a “no-go”? For instance, your customers may associate terms such as “nonprofit,” “fair trade” or “green” with a product that is subpar. By identifying and removing these “trigger” phrases, you remove potential purchasing barriers.

Craft Your Voice
Once you've decided how to effectively market your product, its time to integrate your social mission back into your branding, and create a voice that will consistently tell your story to current and potential customers:

  • What is the type of message that resonates most with your customers - is it people or numbers? emotional stories or statistics? formal or casual?
  • What are the facets of your social story that appeal most to the customer sector you have identified? 
  • Who are the influencers (voices that effectively influence others' purchasing decisions) in your customer groups? Wow can you reach them and convince them to share your product?
  • Which social platforms are your customers currently using, and how must you adjust your voice to meet the parameters of that particular platform? 

Looking for more support in building an effective marketing strategy for your social enterprise? Check out these helpful resources: