How Purpose Can Improve the Employee Experience

By Julie Rose | Culture

Jan 10

The word “purpose” gets mentioned a lot these days when we talk about successful businesses. For those who may not know, purpose-driven companies are those that are clear on their broader reason for existing beyond making a profit. You know many of them because they focus their marketing and communications efforts on their purpose – think TOMS, Patagonia, and Warby Parker.

You may already be aware that purpose-driven companies are more profitable than other organizations1, but did you know they’re also home to happier employees? It’s true: 72% of respondents to one survey indicate their purpose-driven organizations give employees a sense of meaning and fulfillment2 – key contributors to recruitment and retention. In another study, 100% of respondents believe embracing a company’s purpose increases employee productivity.3 A whopping 94% of purpose-driven companies report that their people are their top priority1, and it shows.

That said, it seems there are still more companies getting this wrong than right: Only 40% of U.S. employees strongly agree that the mission or purpose of their company makes them feel their job is important4. And, more than a third of employees say there’s a disconnect between their organization’s stated purpose and its daily actions5.

It seems that purpose-driven companies are winning on every level, yet many organizations try to emulate them and fall short. What can be done? The first thing, of course, is to get clear on your purpose as a business.

That’s no small task. But once you’ve done it, here are some suggestions from LINX WorkForce Innovations about how to leverage your purpose in improving your employees’ experience. My goal is for you to reap the same benefits other purpose-driven companies enjoy when it comes to recruitment, retention, productivity, and more:

  • Make “Chief Evangelist” part of leaders’ job descriptions. Top leaders need to constantly communicate the organization’s purpose to every audience. Importantly, they must also translate that purpose into why it matters to each group, and how they can contribute. It’s hard to understate the importance of this; in fact, EY research shows that lack of conviction and consistency in how leaders communicate purpose are the most common reasons employees choose not to act on it themselves6. Leaders should embrace repetitiveness – while they may hear themselves talk about purpose constantly, their employees aren’t as exposed to the information, and need to hear it regularly. Leaders should also make purpose real by using stories to bring it to life, like sharing stories about how employees are connecting their specific roles to the broader purpose.
  • Get the real story from employees. With so many employees indicating their companies don’t walk their talk around purpose, organizations need help to see what their employees are seeing. The only way to do this is to really talk to employees – to uncover the deeper truth about what they observe and how they feel. And, employees need to feel comfortable holding their organizations accountable when they find policies or see behaviors that are not aligned with the purpose.
  • Rethink success and rewards. As the old saying goes, “We manage what we measure.” If we want purpose to become real in our organizations, we need it to be inextricably linked to how we define success and award compensation. While 30% of employees indicate salaries and incentives are not connected to their organization’s purpose6, the best purpose-driven companies reward their people based on their contributions to purpose, culture, and their coworkers – not just based on their business performance.

LINX WorkForce Innovations can help organizations better fulfill their purpose when it comes to their employees – including hearing from them about where the organization can do better. We’re experts at gathering employee insights and translating them into actions that create change. The end goal? To create a culture that attracts and retains your top talent while enabling your organization to better deliver on its purpose for existing.

What other ideas do you have for using purpose to improve the employee experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


1 Korn Ferry: People on a Mission: purpose-driven consumer companies achieved a compounded annual growth rate of 9.85% over five years, compared to 2.4% for the whole S&P 500 Consumer Sector

2 Harvard Business Review: The Business Case for Purpose

3 Korn Ferry: Where There’s Purpose, There’s Profit

4 Gallup: State of the American Workplace

5 EY: Deriving Value from Purpose

6 EY: Is Your Purpose Lectured or Lived?

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About the Author

Julie is an executive with a proven track record for brand building and team building. She is skilled at leveraging disparate resources to unlock new insights and create human-centric strategies. She has held several client service roles in her career and is adept at working collaboratively to set clear goals and deliver on expectations.