To thrive, an organisation needs to have a sense of purpose that's shared by everyone in it. But many don’t have this, leaving employees struggling to find a connection. Here, we explain how bringing purpose front and centre makes all the difference to an organisation.
No purpose, no point
Organisational purpose and employee engagement are intrinsically linked, playing a big part in a workforce's productivity, passion, and drive. In many organisations, however, a distinct lack of meaning attributed to people's roles can leave them questioning if what they do even matters.
A lack of connection to the organisational purpose means employees don't fully understand the organisation's mission, what it stands for, or what it hopes to achieve in the future. As a result, they don't see what impact or positive changes their company is making.
So where's the motivation?
Moving purpose centre stage
For a workforce to feel proud of their job, they need an organisation's purpose to be clearly defined. Regardless of where an employee is in the organisational chart, whether they're back office or customer-facing, there should be a focus on what they do and how it fits into the bigger picture. The meaning of their day-to-day job needs to be spotlit and they need to see value in what they do.
We've identified three main factors that help drive purpose among employees and across an organisation.
1. Communicate the mission
Employees need to identify with the cause of an organisation. Having common goals and a shared vision is about understanding a company's culture and values; this is where the mission comes in.
A company's mission shouldn't be considered an HR exercise but an explicit part of its culture discussed at all levels between its people. It plays an essential part in uniting beliefs among employees, enabling them to identify with their company's meaningful work.
How a mission is communicated will vary from company to company. While it will undoubtedly form part of an Employee Value Proposition, the core narrative must be present across all messaging. It can become part of why people want to work for an organisation, something relatable that drives their pride, productivity, and engagement.
As Facebook’s employee research found, "When people are committed to the mission, their relationship with the company changes. Work is more than a job or a career—it becomes a calling."
2. Recognise the human factor
Establishing a more human-emotional connection with the purpose isn’t just about helping employees understand the impact of their day-to-day work. It's also about an organisation understanding their employees, what inspires them, and giving them a platform to express this openly.
While employees want to know their voices are valid and acknowledged, they also want to be aware of the broader decision-making processes beyond their departments and the corporate strategy. So open communication and information sharing are critical and are far more effective than a siloed approach.
It's also essential to take the time to understand employees' expectations of the company and whether it's met. Do they feel valued? If not, what can be done about it? How supportive is the organisation in acting on feedback from employees? Are they aware they're making a positive difference to the organisation?
Building these emotional connections can be achieved by connecting the dots between individuals and management. When a shared purpose joins a team of individuals, they can move together towards the same goals, strengthening a sense of belonging to the company's shared vision. And when individuals connect with their managers, more explicit goals can be set, with a more focused output.
3. Lead with purpose
While we know a clear sense of purpose among employees leads to higher engagement and commitment to the cause, the purpose risks just being words on a page without meaning. It's only useful having a purpose if it's articulated among employees and communicated clearly as part of a shared goal.
Leaders must help their people link what they do on an individual level and within a team, highlighting how it impacts the excellent work a company is doing. They should cultivate purpose, putting it at the centre of any employee engagement strategy, driving it into their organisation's culture.
Happiness from within
While many companies have tapped into the importance of employee engagement and its link to heightened productivity and better performance – for its people and the organisation – it’s not just about creating a fleeting feeling of satisfaction for employees through financial perks, autonomy, or a supportive manager.
Instead, it's about creating an organisation's purpose laced into a vision of the future, shared by all, and at the core of every interaction. Employees can connect to this shared purpose and be proud of their organisation. Not only that, but they are far more likely to be happier at work. And happier employees equal better commercial performance and healthy workplace culture.
By Charlotte Brett, Copywriter, Employer Brand Advisory