Strategies to Increase a Sense of Purpose in Your Employees and Organization
There is no question that purpose is now a driving force in attracting and retaining top talent. McKinsey found that 70 percent of people define their purpose through work. The researchers stated, “Nearly seven out of 10 employees are reflecting on their purpose because of COVID-19 . . . half of American employees are reconsidering the work that they want to do.”
And this is not just frontline employees. MIT recently surveyed managers and executives, finding that 72 percent strongly agree that it’s “very important to them to work for an organization with a purpose they believe in.”
What Is Purpose?Purpose is an overarching sense of what matters in a person’s life—it’s driven by their core values and gives their life a sense of meaning. Purpose acts as a North Star, helping us know when we’ve veered off the path and are no longer “on purpose” in our lives and work.
Today’s workers are seeking a sense of purpose through the organizations they work for. Leaders who recognize and respond to this shift will ultimately win the competition for those highly sought-after employees. Here are two strategies leaders should focus on:
1. Help Your Employees Explore and Find Their Sense of Purpose
In the past, many organizations avoided having these conversations, fearing they might increase employee departure. But the opposite is true. When managers have conversations about purpose, it creates a culture of authentic caring, which increases employee retention more than many other initiatives. In addition, the manager now has vital information to make more deliberate project assignments, offer more relevant coaching, and design better professional development opportunities.
McKinsey found that employees who say that they live their purpose at work are 6.5 times more likely to report higher resilience and six times more likely to want to stay at their company.
2. Reap the Many Benefits of a Workforce Lit Up by Purpose
Besides higher retention, the many other benefits of purpose are impressive. Studies show that people with a sense of purpose experience:
- Neural protection with reduced risk for stroke, age-related cognitive decline, and dementia
- Better mental health with significant decreases in anxiety, depression, and isolation
- Better physical health with reduced risk of heart attacks, lower levels of the inflammatory response, and longer lifespans
- Better ability to heal through tragedy and loss
Organizations also benefit when their members have a sense of purpose because studies show they have increased comfort with diversity and perceive challenging circumstances as less difficult than their peers who don’t have a sense of purpose. Deloitte found that purpose-driven companies report 30 percent higher levels of innovation and 40 percent higher employee retention than their competitors.
How to Become a Purpose-Driven OrganizationToday’s workers want employment with purpose-driven organizations. This is especially true for millennials and Gen Zers, who will be 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. Consider these strategies:
- Invest time and energy in identifying your organization’s purpose, including the social good it hopes to make in the world.
- Make your organization’s values, mission, and purpose easy to identify.
- Consider how your recruiting and hiring processes demonstrate your commitment to the organization’s purpose.
- Ensure your managers have the skills to start purpose-oriented conversations from day one.
- Design work environments and experiences that help people connect with their colleagues; relationships are essential to making work meaningful.
Purpose matters, and its importance to employees and customers will continue to grow in the coming years. Leaders who act now can ensure that their organizations will thrive well into the future.