How do you align employees with organisational purpose?

7 October, 2019
Employee engagement

When employees don’t engage with purpose, it can be disastrous

The average working week is 40 hours. With 48 working weeks each year and an average 45 years of working life, that’s around 90,000 hours spent at work in a lifetime. That’s a lot of time, so it’s not surprising that a set of four studies found that people desire purpose and meaning in their work. The results of these studies show that:

  • People would accept lower wages to work somewhere they find personally meaningful rather than somewhere that does not provide this purpose.
  • When people are provided more purposeful work, their salary expectations are lower.
  • People who experience work with greater purpose are more likely to reject higher paying jobs elsewhere.

This presents all organisations with a conundrum. If people are not earning enough to satisfy their cost of living, they are likely to seek a new job elsewhere. Once they are earning a satisfactory salary, if they don’t feel as if they are doing work that serves a real purpose, they are likely to look elsewhere.


Purpose is key to attracting and retaining staff

A 2018 YouGov survey found that a third of managers would consider leaving their job if their organisation’s purpose was not clear. More than half of respondents said they would consider leaving if the organisation’s purpose and values do not align with their own. Further:

  • Of those respondents who said they work at purpose-led organisations, 81% are more likely to say positive things about their employer and 89% feel ‘engaged and committed’ to their work.
  • Of those who said they do not work at purpose-led organisations, only 40% are likely to say positive things about their employer and only 59% say they are engaged and committed to their work.

Being a purpose-led organisation is key to attracting and retaining the most talented people. The question that organisations must answer is how to connect day-to-day tasks and workloads with the bigger picture – why the organisation exists.


4 Steps to connect your employees with your purpose

As we discussed in our two-part article ‘Getting Serious about Your Organisational Purpose’, purpose is not just a passing fad. It provides the meaning behind an organisation’s existence, its actions and the way that employees behave.

Organisational purpose is intrinsic to an organisation’s business strategy. When people are not engaged in your organisation’s purpose, they will not be engaged in achieving your strategic goals.

These four steps will help you connect your people to your organisation’s purpose.


Step 1: Link purpose to goals

An employee’s personal goals should be stretching but realistic and should be linked to the organisation’s purpose. By explaining tasks and goals in this way, you provide meaning to every action and behaviour that the employee makes.

Your purpose should provide meaning to what employees do – and this is all employees. Creating this link between purpose and goals inspires people to do their best with their daily tasks – and this should be reflected in all metrics by which you measure performance.


Step 2: Communicate clearly

It is essential that you communicate in a way that is clear and concise to ensure that your purpose is easily understood and easily shared. Throughout an organisation there are likely to be many levels of comprehension, and your communication strategy is likely to utilise many channels – including face-to-face, emails, texts, blogs etc.

The Big Picture People’s Learning Map is one way to help employees to visualise and explore their organisation’s purpose, vision and values. This approach relies on dialogue to encourage employees to take ownership and personal responsibility for their role in delivering the purpose.


Step 3: Transparency of purpose

Just as clear communication is crucial, so too is transparency. Your people expect to see leaders and managers accept accountability for their own goals and operate in line with your organisation’s purpose.

You should be clear about the steps you are taking to achieve goals and objectives and what barriers exist. This will help develop trust between the organisation, its employees, suppliers and customers – all of which can only happen if your organisation’s strategy and purpose are aligned.


Step 4: Revisit and repeat continuously

In a world that is changing at a faster pace than at any time in history, your vision, strategy and purpose are likely to evolve. Your business is a like a living organism, constantly reacting to the world around it.

In this environment, it is crucial to revisit your purpose regularly and keep your employees in the loop. To remain aligned with your purpose, they must be reminded of it constantly. In meetings with staff, managers should ensure that they link goals to the purpose and discuss how daily tasks help towards the achievement of goals.


In summary

A clear purpose, communicated effectively, will help your employees to remain engaged with their work and your organisation’s strategy and goals. When your employees are aligned with your purpose, they are more engaged and productive. This provides competitive advantage, as employees are motivated to deliver their goals and drive your organisation toward its goals.

To understand how the Learning Map could help give meaning to your purpose and engage your employees with it, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

(To see how putting people in the picture creates a shared vision and helps set a concrete destination, read this case study.)

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