Go for social return

The challenge: Make alternative ways of social return more attractive to entrepreneurs.

Description of the problem

The municipality of The Hague puts a lot of projects out to tender, which leads to new job opportunities. Social return is compulsory for companies that win a municipal tender (above the European tender threshold, in the future this will also apply to tenders below this limit). This means that they have to spend part of the money that they get with their contract on hiring people that face difficulties accessing the labor market. As a result, more students and other people seeking employment can find a job or internship.

Ideally, a company creates direct paid employment for people with a distance to the labor market. However, in reality this is not always possible, for example, due to a lack of candidates. In that case there are alternative options such as:

  • a training program
  • a collaboration with a social entrepreneur

Currently, companies hardly use these alternative options. The reason for this is because companies are still unfamiliar with them and the municipality does not always refer to them.

If we also start implementing social return for lower tenders (below the limit of € 221,000), these alternative possibilities will become more important. With these amounts it is more difficult to create social return through direct employment, thus alternative options will become more important.

Social return leads to more social impact when these alternative options can be used. How can we facilitate the ‘customer journey’ of our contractors in an efficient way that ultimately leads to optimization of social return? This is the first challenge we face. A company that has to create social return needs to be accountable for it, even when they create social return in a different way, for example by purchasing products or services from social entrepreneurs. How can we realize this in a more transparent and efficient way? Which (technological) solutions can analyze and interpret the social return on investment, making it traceable and thus increase its legitimacy? This is the second challenge.

From a company’s perspective: if a company wants to contribute to a better city by meeting the requirement of 5% social return in the tender, then we want to be able to help this company achieve this. How can transparency in services play a role in this?

What are we looking for?

  • The solution should be aimed at companies/employers, helping them to find and implement social return on investment options. This includes: describing what is possible, helping to find an option, making matches, etc.
  • The solution must be transparent to the public and show how companies deal with implementing social return. At some municipalities the employer service point (WSP) gives companies a certificate to reward them for their successful deployment. We are looking for a suitable reward, such as inclusion in a benchmark or ranking.
  • The employer service point (WSP) primarily focuses on helping people find work who have difficulties accessing the labor market, and also do this in the context of social return. Accountmanagers of the WSP meet with contractors that have a social return obligation. These accountmanagers are great in placing candidates, but the core of their work is not in providing support to contractors in finding alternative options for social return. It is therefore important, to facilitate contractors/entrepreneurs as much as possible (online) in finding alternative ways to realize social return and facilitate the accountability of companies with regard to their social return. The solution should lessen the burden of WSP account managers.

What are we not looking for?

  • The current tool to measure social return is Wizzr. We are not looking for a similar tool (as we do not have the intention to stop using Wizzr).
  • We are also not looking for an online platform (like Marktplaats) with social entrepreneurs, since the MAEX, Buy Social and already exist.
  • We are also not looking for something that costs a lot of (work) capacity

Background information

How is social return currently registered or analysed?

This is possible with the help of Wizzr from Provijf.

How does social return work? What steps do the municipality and the company take?

  • Publication of tenders (currently those above the EU tender threshold, in the future for all tenders) on Tenderned.
  • Parties can register after which they receive online information about social return.
  • When a party wins a tender, this party is sent to the social return coordinator at the employer service point (WSP), followed by a conversation with WSP accountmanager.
  • The accountmanager and employer decide upon a type of social return together. Initially, this happens through the employment of individuals that find it difficult to enter the labor market. If this is not possible, the contractor may use an alternative way. The responsibility for creating social return lies with the contractor. This is a condition that the contractor must fulfil. However, a contractor does not have to use the services, the candidates and the advice of the WSP.
  • The contractor must account for the social return in the Wizzr system.

Where can I find more information about the current policy of social return?