Anna Kucinska
02 March 2015

How to measure social added value in social enterprises - "U Pana Cogito" from Poland

As Agnieszka Lewonowska-Banach writes for the portal www.ekonomiaspoleczna.pl it is a challenge for each social enterprise to evaluate both financial results and social added value which is what makes the social economy sector special.

It is crucial to try to measure this aspect of social enterprises as it needs to be at the core of their everyday functioning, not only an addition. The values that underpin the functioning of social enterprises should be inherent in all their economic activity, otherwise a company runs ordinary business activity under the guise of social activity.

The mission of the pension house and restaurant “U Pana Cogito”  in Krakow, Poland, is to help integrate socially and professionally its employees. Therefore what is measured is this process with regard to 24 employees who are disabled and have suffered mental crises. The pension’s management approaches each employee individually, they discuss changes with regard to their health and social and professional skills. Then they draw overall conclusions which contribute to the overall evaluation.

fot. http://www.pcogito.pl/

“U Pana Cogito” has invested in creating an exemplary highly supportive working environment which helps many employees with a history of mental illnesses to find and maintain a job; a working environment that is well-organised and where highly individualized approach to each employee is applied. When discussing progress and improvement in the situation of the employees, all their health and family issues as well as other life circumstances are taken into account as they have impact on the employee’s performance and general well-being. Nevertheless, Agnieszka Lewonowska-Banach thinks that if it weren’t for that special working enclave, even 90% of the employees would not fit in.  

However, “U Pana Cogito” can talk about some optimistic measurable results with regard to social added value such as the number of the employees who have increased their qualifications within a year or continued education in order to pass the secondary school leaving exam for adults or even the number of the disabled who have started work outside the pension. In 2014 two disabled employees became more professionally independent – one is continuing education and the other one found a job on the regular labour market in a position that combines their qualifications and the knowledge freshly acquired in post-graduate studies.  

The pension’s experience proves that it is quite challenging to secure log-term effects that will lead to a sustainable and positive change in everyday work of disabled and mentally challenged employees. It is quite challenging to ensure that they fully recover and are able to fulfill different social roles in their lives. It however provides an even stronger incentive to seek new, more effective ways of communicating within the team of workers, boosting their vital forces and health and giving them sustained hope. The value in this work is their common efforts, relations and keeping up with what is new and innovative – not only technological solutions but also new ways of looking at social relations.

Creating a supportive working environment which promotes respect for the disabled and mentally challenged workers is a way of keeping up with the needs of modern society. Agnieszka Lewonowska-Banach encourages us to seek better ways of integrating people with mental crises into society and making them participate in public life in a satisfactory manner. In order to do so we must regularly analyse and evaluate what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.

 

Based on: Agnieszka Lewonowska-Banach, Zmierzyć niemierzalne, czyli jak działać jeszcze lepiej, www.ekonomiaspoleczna.pl

Visit the social enterprise’s website: http://www.pcogito.pl/

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