“Are people really quitting their jobs in search of purpose-driven work??” Unequivocally, yes. People seek purpose during challenging times. To say that the last 2 years (TWO YEARS!) qualify as “challenging times” is an understatement. Obviously, there’s been a pandemic. But that’s certainly not the only major event. In addition to Covid, we’ve seen:
Black Lives Matter protests
Record-breaking wildfire seasons, tropical storms, earthquakes, & volcanic eruptions
All of which, of course, has affected business. Between not being able to go to the office to work, employees having mental or physical health crises, protests, supply chain issues… clearly, we cannot go on with “business as usual.”With collaborative networks having shrunk by 30% and inclusion seriously suffering (Innovisor global research), what’s a business to do in 2022? Developing and embracing purpose-driven work is a good place to start to drive engagement and connection through Purpose.
What does purpose-driven work look like?
Purpose-driven companies succeed because everyone – from the interns to the C-suite – is rowing in the same direction. Everyone has a unified vision of what success looks like. Every single person feels empowered to do the best they can in service to the ultimate purpose of the business. Your workforce is engaged and feels empowered, connected, and supported. In turn, they treat your customers well. And your customers return because they see the values that drew them to your business in the first place lived out through their interactions with your staff. Sounds like a dream, right? It’s a reality for purpose-driven companies worldwide.
Why purpose matters
Does it really matter, having a company purpose? We believe it does. We’ve seen how a business’s purpose can make a difference with our own clients and – more importantly – we have seen data that backs this up.
Consumers will seek out brands whose purpose they feel aligns with their own personal values, and they will be more loyal to those brands. This is more prevalent the younger the consumer is.
72% of surveyed Gen Z in the US factor in a company’s purpose when shopping. 75% will do research to see if a company is walking the talk when it takes a stand on an issue. And 85% say that they will share their positive opinion about a company that is doing good. (Cone/Porter Novelli 2019) A real jaw-dropper – 73% of global consumers will switch to higher-purpose brands. (The Science of Purpose)
People seek out work they perceive as meaningful and engaging – and they will sacrifice income for it.
84% of Millennials value meaning in day-to-day work (PwC 2016) and four out of five US college graduates say it is very important (37%) or extremely important (43%) to derive a sense of purpose from their work (Gallup & Bates College 2019)
Purpose-driven work increases employee productivity.
If a satisfied employee’s productivity level is 100%, an engaged employee’s level is 144%, but the productivity level of an employee that is truly inspired by the purpose of their employer is a whopping 225%. (Bain & Company 2015)
And finally (and not surprisingly, given the above stats), Purposeful brands outperform their competitors, even during times of crisis. Researchers at the School of Management at SUNY Binghamton found that certified B Corps had an impressive 51% revenue growth rate during the 2008 financial crisis. (Yale 2018)
So, why does purpose matter? Because loyal customers and engaged employees keep your business alive and (comparatively) thriving during “unprecedented times,” like the 2008 financial crisis, or a pandemic. Want to continue a data deep-dive into Purpose? We suggest The Science of Purpose.
Does it really matter, having a company purpose? We believe it does.
How purpose-driven leadership reacts to obstacles
As a leader in a purposeful company, you have remarkable tools at your disposal in the shape of a company’s purpose and values. Your purpose is not a set-it-and-forget-it corporate motto. It’s intended to be a tool put to daily use throughout the organization, and especially by leadership. Your corporate purpose should be the eye of the needle through which all organizational decisions pass.
In practice, this looks like asking yourself – in times of ease or difficulty – “which solution to this problem supports our purpose?” For example, at Red Thread Brands, our purpose is to ignite passion with action. This applies to both our clients and our employees, whose passion drives the solutions we develop for our clients. It’s important that we value their passions outside of the office by providing them with ample opportunities to participate in them (ignite them with action). Ensuring they have time to foster these passions is even more critically important during times of instability, uncertainty, and stress (ie, the last two years). This is one way we use our purpose as an organization to help guide us in making decisions.
Purpose-driven leaders work well under pressure because they don’t lose sight of the organization’s purpose in times of difficulty. In fact, as the business encounters difficulty, that is the moment to more firmly embrace your purpose and values. Use them as the guideposts by which you make difficult decisions. When you are uncertain of your next steps, you can feel more confident about your decisions knowing they align with your organization’s purpose and uphold the values.
How to help your team find passion and purpose at work
We can hear your thoughts from over here – “All that sounds great… but we have XYZ problem. How can we utilize a corporate purpose?” Fear not – one of our values is solutions; we’re not about to promote all the benefits and leave you searching for actionable steps. Look below to find your hurdle and our proposed solution.
1. “I know our business would benefit from developing a purpose, but I am not in a position within the company to make that happen. What can I do to further this idea?”
It’s not uncommon to have ideas you feel will genuinely benefit your company, but not be in a position to execute them or unsure of the steps to present your ideas. We have a few suggestions. One is to develop your personal leadership purpose. While this is obviously not a company-wide change, it can transform the way you operate in your role or manage your team. The impact your personal leadership purpose enables may help steer overall leadership conversations towards purpose development. Second, you can do your research on the benefits of company purpose (we’ve done some for you, above), and pitch the idea to a member of your executive team.
2. “We’re not a ‘touchy-feely’ or ‘granola crunchy’ kind of company, and we’re not privately owned. I don’t think our CEO, other members of our executive team, or board will agree to develop our purpose.”
Great! Businesses solve all sorts of problems in the world with their own personalities and unique offerings. There are a multitude of ‘non-granola,’ publicly-traded corporations that are purposeful, including 3M, Amazon, Schlumberger, and UPS, just to name a few. Dig into information on the Firms of Endearment website to learn more about the study and the companies involved (and we highly recommend reading the book, too). Then, just as recommended above, make your pitch! You can also start with your leadership purpose if you feel like demonstrating the impact will help further your cause.
3. “We just don’t have it in our budget after the last few years to hire consultants to help us develop this. What can we do?
Keep your eyes on our website or sign up for our newsletter for more information on a self-lead purpose development workshop, coming soon from Red Thread Brands!
4. “We have a purpose, but it’s just taking up space on our wall. We don’t use it to guide us as an organization. How can we change that?”
While not uncommon, developing a purpose and then never fully implementing it can cause large employee engagement or even customer retention issues, depending on how long this has continued. To solve it will require an audit of the Purpose, interviews with employees & an engagement survey, an implementation strategy, and possibly more, depending on the findings. This is a big task to tackle, but we can help! Are you ready for a consultation to discuss your business’s individual situation?