Think bigger: Why your business needs a purpose, especially now

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From CEOs to managers to new hires, many of us are re-evaluating what’s important in our work. According to just released Adecco research, two in five of white-collar workers said they are considering a career change, and 75% said that a job with a clear sense of purpose is important to them. Today, leaders have an amazing opportunity to reimagine work and reconnect fragmented workforces.

So, what does it mean to define “the purpose” for your organization and for your employees?

Corporate purpose is your core reason for being beyond profits. It’s not a vague idea, it’s a business’s unique and positive impact on society. At Google, it’s “to organize the world’s information.” At Unilever, “it’s to make sustainable living commonplace.” At Adecco, we’re “making the future work for everyone.”

Having a strong corporate purpose can be a game-changer for today’s burned out, disconnected employees. Those who live their purpose at work are healthier, more productive, and more engaged. Research has found that people are five times more excited to work at a company that takes time to reflect on how they’re contributing to the world.

Learn how leaders can ignite their company’s purpose and help employees find meaning in their daily work.

Reframe work

Employees may not always feel inspired, but it’s important to focus on the impact their work has on their community and the world at large. For example, front-line store workers, delivery drivers, and blue-collar workers continue to play a critical role in the pandemic and our economy. For many, what kept them going was the realization: “If I wasn’t here, who would be here providing this essential service?

Spread the word

Your message starts with onboarding, but it shouldn’t end there. Invest in intensive cultural orientation for all new colleagues, and continue to reinforce your purpose through employee communications, town hall meetings, and team-building activities. That’s why managers and leaders need to be fully engaged with your organization’s purpose. They set the tone by encouraging ownership and celebrating employees who are putting in the work.

Put purpose before pay

Framing work as something that’s purely transactional will trigger your staff to work on only the most measurable – and rewardable – activities. Pay remains hugely important, and when you ask your employees what motivates them, they’ll probably talk about pay and benefits, too. However, retention doesn’t mean engagement. A quick salary bump won’t necessarily motivate an already disconnected employee. Refocus your investments on helping your employees feel a part of the bigger picture and reach their potential through skills and career development opportunities (Upskilling concerns are a big part of the ‘great re-evaluation’ for employees).

Lead with purpose

Workers continue to trust companies the most to deliver on building a better working world, according to our new global report. Yet, satisfaction with leadership is low, as are perceptions around company culture. When your purpose messaging doesn’t match your senior leadership’s behavior, people smell the hypocrisy and become skeptical. The decisions leaders make during this crisis will shape employee engagement – and your business’ identity – in a way that will long outlast this pandemic.

For more insights on the complex, unfolding issues shaping our working world – including purpose and remote employee engagement – visit our freshly launched Resetting Normal: Defining The New Era Of Work.