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About Social Indicators
Well-being
Skills Development
Health
High Risk Behaviour

About Social Indicators

If you would like to demonstrate, measure, or check the effect your organisation is having on people, this section can help.

After identifying indicators, you can go to Compare Research Methods and use a variety of approaches to find out about peoples’ attitudes, opinions, and perceptions.

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Individual People

Well-being

nef has put forward the idea that promoting people’s well-being should be considered one of the ultimate aims of society – alongside social justice and ecological sustainability. By ‘well-being’ we mean people’s experience of their quality of life. In this section, we aim to break this concept down into component parts, showing how even ‘soft’ outcomes like a change in a person’s well-being can be measured by a social enterprise.

nef's model of well-being has two personal dimensions:1

1. People’s satisfaction with their lives.
2. Their sense of personal development, sometimes called positive functioning or personal expressiveness.

and a social context:

3. Their social well-being – belonging to their communities, a positive attitude towards others, feeling that they are contributing to society and engaging in what could be called ‘pro-social behaviour’.

Research has shown that the key factors for promoting well-being at work are:

Personal control of work load
Work matched to skill level
Variety of content
Role clarity
Financial rewards
Physical security
Support from supervisors
Relationships with colleagues
Status of role – that one’s work is valued both within and outside the workplace
Sense of identity with the organisation – including its purpose or mission.

Who might use these indicators?

These indications might be used by social firms, employment related organisations, co-operatives, and others that are focused on the development and well-being of individual people.

Measuring well-being

Social enterprises affect people’s well-being in many ways, for example through employment (including volunteers) and the services that they provide or goods that they produce. They may also have smaller effects on broader stakeholder groups, such as the communities they operate within.

Below you will find a collection of indicators that can help you create a fuller picture of an individual’s well-being. How much you use the questions as a starting point for a conversation is a matter of personal and organisational choice. It is suggested that all questions in the same group are asked together, followed by a space for conversation.

Most of the questions use an 11-point scale:

0 (not at all) to 10 (totally or extremely) for scoring.

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Social Indicators: Well-being

Assessment of overall life – to be asked either as the first or last question – and needs to be included in all assessments

  • If you consider your overall life, how satisfied would you say you are?
  • If you consider your overall life, how much do you feel that you are able to really express who you are?

These questions measure positive and negative affect – this is a measure of overall well-being and should follow the questions above.

Indicate to what extent you have felt this way in the past few weeks: (0 = not at all; 5 = moderately; 10 = extremely)

  • Afraid
  • Angry             
  • Guilty
  • Sad
  • Happy
  • Excited
  • Confident
  • Interested

Questions below regard people’s social well-being. 

  • How much do you feel that you belong to something you’d call a community?
  • How much do you tend to trust people that you come into contact with in your community?
  • How much do you feel you are able to contribute something positive to your community and society?

Questions below cover the main aspects of people’s lives.  It is feasible to add other realms of people’s lives that feel appropriate to the context. 

  • How satisfied are you with your relationships with your family?
  • How much do you feel you are able to be ‘yourself’ with your family?
  • How satisfied are you with your relationships with your friends?
  • How much do you feel you are able to be ‘yourself’ with your friends?
  • How satisfied are you with your relationships with other people in the community (or neighbourhood) you live in?
  • How much do you feel you are able to be ‘yourself’ with other people in your community (or neighbourhood) you live in?
  • How satisfied are you with your paid work or job? (if appropriate)
  • How much do you feel that the work you do fits with who you are (if appropriate)
  • How satisfied are you with your voluntary work? (if appropriate)
  • How much do you feel that the voluntary work you do fits with who you are you? (if appropriate)
  • How satisfied are you with the activities you do in your leisure time?
  • How intensely involved do you become with the leisure activities you do?
  • How satisfied are you with your health?
  • Normally how “full of life” do you feel?
  • How satisfied are you with your standard of living?
  • Generally how physically safe do you feel in life?

These questions below cover people’s experience of their working life in more detail.  These are appropriate to use if the interviewee is an employee or a volunteer with the organisation. 

  • How satisfied are you with the degree of control you have over your workload?
  • How satisfied are you with the amount of variety of tasks you do in your job?
  • In general is there too much variety or too little?

Much too little

Too little

About right

Too much

Much too much

1

2

3

4

5

  • How satisfied are you with your ability to achieve the tasks you do in your job?
  • In general are the tasks you do too easy or too difficult?

Much too easy

Too easy

About right

Too difficult

Much too difficult

1

2

3

4

5

  • How clear do you feel your duties and responsibilities are at work? (0 = not at all clear; 10 = perfectly clear)
  • How satisfied are you about your personal health and safety at work?
  • How satisfied are you with your level of pay?
  • How satisfied are you with the quality and quantity of supervision you receive at work?
  • How satisfied are you with your relationships with other people at work?
  • How respected do you feel for the job you do (or role you fulfil) within the organisation?
  • How respected do you feel for the job you do (or role you fulfil) from other people?
  • How much do you feel a sense of belonging towards the organisation that you work in?
  • Too what degree do you feel you have a ‘special fit’ with the organisation that you work in?

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Skills Development

Many social enterprises seek to help people to increase their skills in specific areas, especially those that are needed in the workplace – such as ‘hard’ skills  (learning how to do a particular job) or ‘soft’ skills ( those related to being part of a workplace, communicating with others, and personal effectiveness). The end result may be increased attractiveness to an employer and an increase in self-confidence and well-being. It can therefore be useful to try to capture both aspects when you decide upon your indicators.

Who might use these indicators?

These indicators might be used by social firms, employment-related organisations, co-operatives, and others that are focused on the development and well-being of individual people.

Measuring skills increase

In the table below you will find some indicators that can be used to show that change is happening. These indicators can be used objectively, for example by observing the person in action at regular intervals, or subjectively by asking them what they are able to do.

Table: Social Indicators: increases in individuals’ skills

Increasing people’s skill/competence in social interaction

  • Relationships with peers
  • Relationships with people in ‘authority’ positions
  • Ability to work in a team with other people
  • Increase in social networks
  • Increase in tolerance of others’ differences

Increasing personal effectiveness and aptitude and life skills.

  • Improved ability to plan
  • Improved ability to prioritise
  • Ability to reason verbally     
  • Numerical reasoning
  • Increased problem-solving skills

Increasing ‘basic’ work skills and attributes.

  • Attainment of basic literacy (reading, writing)
  • Basic numerical skills, including ability to manage money
  • Timekeeping, reliability
  • Ability to complete forms
  • Completion of a CV
  • Improved presentation skills
  • Appearance suitable to the workplace

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Health

Social enterprises can have both direct and indirect effects on physical and mental health, as well as on an individual’s private and social behaviours (e.g. substance abuse and preventive measure) that affect their health.

Who might use these indicators?

Social firms, organisations that run health and fitness centres, and medically-related social enterprises would all have a potential interest in understanding their effects on people’s physical and mental health. In addition, organisations that work with individuals that have difficulties with drugs or who are homeless may be interested in using indicators specially designed for the groups of people that they work with.

Measuring health indicators

There are different ways to measure changes in health.  Some indicators are visible, some can be checked based on GP or other medical records, and some can only be measured by people’s own reports and responses. Usually, a combination of self-reported and directly observed indicators is best to get a more holistic picture of a person’s physical or mental health.

The table below shows general indicators that can be used to demonstrate changes in health, as well as indicators that are targeted towards those with drug addiction. In this section, we draw upon two scales originally developed for assessing the progress of individuals with drug or alcohol addictions, the Maudsley Addiction Profile (MAP)2 and the Christo Inventory for Substance-misuse Services (CISS)3

Social indicators: physical health

Increase physical health

  • Person’s rating of his/her health
  • Visits to GP or other medical care
  • Weight (gained or lost as needed)
  • Improvement of condition that was present upon referral or entry to the organisation

Improvement in Physical Health- particularly useful as related to drugs/alcohol addiction or very poor health.

Self-reported Improvement in how frequently the person has experienced the following problems in the past month: never / rarely / sometimes / often / always 4

  • Poor appetite
  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Pains
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Bone/joint pains
  • Muscle pains
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Tremors (shakes)

A trained observer / interviewer may give a score based on the severity of health problems:  ranging from 0-2 5

0… e.g., client has reported no significant health problems.
1... moderate health problems e.g., teeth/sleep problems, occasional stomach pain, collapsed vein, asymptomatic hep B / C / HIV.
2... major problems e.g., extreme weight loss, jaundice, abscesses/infections, coughing up blood, fever, overdoses, blackouts, seizures, significant memory loss, neurological damage, HIV symptoms.

The sample indicators in the table below can help you to show the effects your organisation has on other areas of a person’s life.

Social indicators: personal improvement

Improvements in Work and Training

Have you had: 6

  • Paid work at any time during the last month (If yes, how many days?)
  • Absence from work due to sickness, or unauthorised leave (If yes, how many days?)
  • Voluntary work at any time during the last month (If yes, how many days?)
  • Training/ education course at any time during the last month (If yes, how many days?)
  • Looking after dependents (children, elderly, ill) at home any time during the last month (If yes, how many days?)
  • Unemployed at any time during the last month (If yes, how many days?)

A trained observer / interviewer may give a score based on the severity of health problems:  ranging from 0-2 7

0… client is in full time occupation e.g., homemaker, parent, employed, or student.
1... e.g., client has some part time parenting, occupation or voluntary work.
2... e.g., client is largely unoccupied with any socially acceptable pastime.

Improvement in people’s ability to be in a relationship with others (related to substance abuse, but could be used to ask in relation to any condition that adversely affects relationships) 8

  • In the past month, have you been in a relationship with a partner, either for some or all of the time? (yes/ no)
  • If yes; measure how many days in contact with partner, children, friends
  • If yes; measure how may days in serious conflict with partner, children, friends

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High-risk behaviour

Social enterprises may seek to help people change patterns of behaviour that result in harm to themselves or to other people. In this case, it is often useful:

To measure progress along the way towards stopping the behaviour entirely, as it can be a long process.
To use these indicators alongside measurements of changes in a person’s well-being. 9

Who might use these indicators?

Some organisations that work with people that have difficulties with drugs, severe mental illness, or other risk factors for behaving in or harmful ways. Other social enterprises that work with teens or adults may find these questions useful if they pertain to a particular person’s situation and can show changes in their behaviour over time.

Measuring high-risk behaviour

The table below gives sample methods for asking individuals about high-risk behaviour including the use of drugs or participating in activities that present a high risk of HIV-infection.  It also uses questions adapted from the MAP and CISS scales (indicated in parentheses) as illustrations of how you may go about asking questions in these areas.

Social indicators: high-risk behaviour

Decreasing drug-abuse behaviour (MAP)

  • Days used in past month: Alcohol; Heroin; Problem opioids; Problem benzodiazepines; Cocaine- hydrochloride; Cocaine- crack/base; Amphetamines
  • Self-reported amount consumed on a typical day in the last month
  • In the past month have you had a drugs overdose (Y/N) how many times ___
  • Use of drugs by injection (if yes, on how many days)
  • Use of needle or syringe which had been used by someone else (if yes, how many times) or use of clean needle/syringe
  • Unprotected sex (yes/ no/ number of times)

Note: these questions would asked during a verbal survey face-to-face

Drug/alcohol use (CISS)

A trained observer / interviewer may give a score based on the severity of health problems:  ranging from 0-2

0… e.g., no recent drug / alcohol use.
1... e.g., client suspected of periodic drug / alcohol use, or else may be socially using drugs that are not considered a problem, or may be on prescribed drugs but not supplementing from other sources.
2... e.g., client suspected of bingeing or regular drug / alcohol use.

Reduce high-HIV risk Sexual / injecting behaviour (CISS)

A trained observer / interviewer may give a score based on the severity of health problems:  ranging from 0-2

0… e.g., client claims not to inject, or have unsafe sex (except in monogamous relationship with longstanding partner, spouse).
1... e.g., may admit to occasional "unsafe" sexual encounters, or suspected to be injecting but denies sharing injecting equipment.
2... e.g., client may admit to regular "unsafe" sexual encounters, or has recently been injecting and sharing injecting equipment.

Homelessness and Residence

It may also be helpful to measure changes in people’s housing or living conditions as a way to show improvement in people’s life stability or other forms of progress.

Social indicators: homelessness and residence

Homelessness/ residence (MAP)

  • How many nights have you spent at the following places in the last month?
  • Own or rented home
  • Relatives/Partners’/ Friends/ others’ home
  • Hostel/ temporary accommodation
  • On the street (homeless)
  • Prison/ jail/ police station
  • Hospital or treatment facility
  • Other ______________
  • How long have you lived at your current address

Stability of living situation (CISS)

Give a score based on the severity of social problems:  0, 1, 2

0… e.g., client has a stable place to live and supportive friends or relatives who are drug / alcohol free.
1... e.g., client's living situation may not be stable……., or they may associate with drug users / heavy drinkers…….
2... e.g., living situation not stable, and they either claim to have no friends or their friends are drug users / heavy drinkers.

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Christo Scale
Library

1 Further details of the academic/research basis of nef’s model of well-being can be found in nef’s well-being manifesto, which is downloadable at www.neweconomics.org.

2 Maudsley Addiction Profile is a public domain research instrument and may be used free of charge for not-for-profit applications. Users are asked to cite the following reference when using the instrument: Marsden, J et al (1998) The Maudsley Addiction Profile (MAP): A brief instrument for assessing treatment outcome, Addiction 93(12): 1857-1867.   

3 The sample questions based on CISS are indicative, and are modified slightly for to enhance their clarity for presentation in this toolkit. For use within your organisation, CISS can be used and copied free of charge as long as you do not modify the wording or title of the CISS, which would render reliability of the scale as a whole and its validity and comparison useless. See the CISS website for more information http://users.breathemail.net/drgeorgechristo/ Reference: Christo, G., Spurrell, S. and Alcorn, R. (2000). Validation of the Christo Inventory for Substance-misuse Services (CISS): a simple outcome evaluation tool. Drug and Alcohol Dependence,59, 189-197.

4 Question taken from MAP scale referenced above.

5 Question taken from CISS scale referenced above.

6 Question taken from MAP scale referenced above.

7 Question taken from CISS scale referenced above.

8 Question taken from MAP scale referenced above.

9 It is important to note, however, that although a person may be making progress in many ways, that person may rate his well being to be quite low, as changing habits and addictions can be physically, psychologically and emotionally difficult.

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