Driving Employee Engagement with Purpose
By Bob Kelleher President and Founder, The Employee Engagement Group | March 08, 2015
Employee engagement is the secret sauce that sets leading companies apart. Employee engagement, profit, growth, client satisfaction, and solid leadership by themselves are not sustainable. These outcomes are from something bigger: purpose. Having purpose is the magic dust for organizations. Employees tend to be happier, healthier and more productive when they feel a sense of purpose in their work. Employee engagement strengthens when employers explain how their employees are contributing to the success of the business.
When you take a look at companies that have collapsed, those who had satisfied employees and extraordinary leaders, you see what happens when a company focuses on profit and loses sight of their purpose. Successful companies are those who make purpose and corporate social responsibility part of their DNA. A survey completed by Deloitte showed that 73% of employee who claim they work for a purpose driven company are engaged, compared to only 23% of those who do not.
Socially conscious organizations have proven to outperform those solely committed to beating the competition, or those based purely on profit. Having a purpose to your organization will help you to define what you believe in as a company. This larger purpose will likely attract employees who share those same beliefs and will want to join you in making that effort come true. It is also import on how you behave to support those beliefs. While it is important to be a purposeful organization, it is absolutely imperative that the organization behaves in an appropriate manner to achieve those goals. How you behave as an organization will demonstrate to your employees how they should behave to obtain goals as well. Moving away from the 'what' you do to the 'why' and 'how' will set your organization up for increased levels of employee engagement.
The Millennial generation is proving to be a purpose driven generation; they are willing for forgo a larger paycheck to work for an employer who has a clear purpose. Baby Boomers are also increasing their role in leading corporate social responsibly as they encourage employees to donate to charities, reduce their carbon footprint, and spend time volunteering. It seems as though Baby Boomers are re-focusing their priorities to focus on purpose since they have climbed the corporate ladder and were previously focused on wealth accumulation.
Due to the shift in focus to purpose, I believe organizations must define both the "what" and the "why" of their organization by crystalizing their employment value propositions (EVP). Most companies are good at focusing on 'what' they do, but the 'why' is their purpose statement that will capture the heads and hearts of employees. A great example of a company that specifies it's 'why' within its EVP is Whole Foods Market: "Provide choices for nurturing the body, the community, and the planet." It clearly states the 'why', because we already know the 'what' is selling perishable consumer goods. By expressing the 'why' it helps employers retain, attract, and hire the best employees. The purpose of an organization also helps with customer experience and satisfaction; many people are focusing on the purpose that drives the companies they associated themselves with.
Thomas Friedman states in The World is Flat, "tomorrow's companies will need to have the brains of a business school graduate and the heart of a social worker." Your employees' likely sense this already – they want to know their organization has a mission greater than just profit. While corporate social responsibility will certainly help drive purpose driven employees to your organization, it will also be a way to measure the company's overall value and vitality. Not only do employees want to be a part of the mission and purpose of an organization, they want to feel that they connect on a deeper level with the organization as well. If they feel that deeper connection, the higher probability they will be engaged.
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