by Crystal Kadakia
23 Jul 2019
The Power of Purpose in the Workplace
The secret to employee engagement and retention
What is a purpose-driven culture? Is it a 30-word mission statement painted on the wall in your office? Or an annual community service day with your employees? Statistics are telling businesses that purpose matters. According to Cone Communications, 75% of millennials are willing to take a pay cut to work for a values-driven company. It’s a staggering number that tells us employees are looking for the “why” behind their work and the company that supports more than dollar signs. Companies and leaders that ignore cultivating clear purpose may find themselves in the talent export business, i.e. sending great talent off to the next career opportunity.
That’s right. As the author of “The Millennial Myth”, I’ve found that ongoing corporate instability (think global recession and industry disruptions) has created a ripple effect on a generation of employees with the result being that getting a paycheck is no longer the top priority. Purpose in the workplace matters more today than it ever. And it’s not just millennials that are looking for it. While Millennials are more likely to leave companies that don’t cater to purpose, feeling clarity on their role as a part of a whole is universal to any generation. In short, your business can’t ignore the role of purpose in employee engagement and retention. Here’s what you need to know about purpose and how you can cultivate it in your company.
What Is Purpose?
According to the Harvard Business Review, purpose “explains how the people involved with an organization are making a difference, gives them a sense of meaning, and draws their support.” This statement is well crafted as it reflects how employees need to feel both with their work in the organization and outside of it.
The Alignment with The Work They Do: Employees want to know what their work contributes to. If you’re a manager, make sure your direct reports see the difference the tasks on their plate make to the bigger picture. Example, according to the Harvard Business Review, KPMG, an accounting cooperative, came up with a purpose phrase that said, “inspire confidence and empower change.” The company then asked its employees “what do you do at KPMG?” Each employee created a purpose-driven headline such as “I combat terrorism”. That headline was put on a poster with the employee’s photo and the company’s purpose statement. The result was hundreds of posters created with “I am Jane Smith, I combat terrorism.”
Engage Your Employees In Crafting Purpose Conduct simple, organization-wide, open-ended survey to inquire what employees believe is the most important impact the company makes . Once purpose and/or values are crafted, invite employees to offer their feedback if they are interested through forums like focus groups or more informal dialogue sessions. Ask employees to share initiatives and contributions that are in line with the purpose regularly