Employee motivation is driven by connection to purpose

9 October, 2019
Employee motivation

Tips to help leaders energise their employees’ passion

“I love the work that I do. I’m one of those rare individuals who look forward to every day – warts and all. I have incredible motivation at work. I’m passionate in what I do.

Passion for your work motivates you to stretch further, work harder, and achieve more. I feel lucky that I’ve found in my work the magic ingredient that drives my passion: purpose. It is purpose that fuels passion, and purpose that drives motivation.”

Imagine the effect on your organisation if every one of your employees felt like this and had the purpose and passion that drove engagement and employee motivation.


Employee Motivation – Helping to put a man on the moon

Have you ever been asked what you do for work? Have you ever asked your employees to tell you what their job is? There’s a famous story (possibly a myth) about a cleaner at NASA who was asked by the then President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, what he did. The cleaner replied, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.

That cleaner had found his purpose. His job wasn’t to simply keep the place clean. His efforts contributed to the big picture. He had found the link between his daily tasks and the purpose of the organisation. This purpose drove his personal employee motivation (something we explore further in our article The employee engagement strategy that really works).


Is a sense of purpose driving employee motivation in your organisation?

Many studies have shown that a sense of purpose drives employee motivation. It helps to create meaning in the work that people do, and create passion for their work.

Imagine that cleaner watching the moon landing. Imagine the pride he felt when Neil Armstrong placed his foot on the moon’s surface. That cleaner would have felt an integral part of this giant leap. Every time he swept a floor or wiped down a surface, that cleaner felt connected to the bigger picture.

In its 2018 survey, UK Working Lives, the CIPD found that only 47% of workers feel they are motivated by their organisation’s core purpose. The survey also found a marked difference between levels of employees and their motivation:

  • 65% of senior managers are motivated by their organisation’s purpose
  • 33% of unskilled workers feel the same degree of employee motivation tied to organisational purpose

While some work may be unsatisfying (there are elements in all jobs that individuals dislike), the CIPD survey concludes that this poor connection with purpose may be due to either a poor job/person match or a “failure of leadership to communicate a clear line of sight between employees’ roles and the organisation’s purpose”.


Are your employees putting a man on the moon?

Let’s assume that your organisation’s recruitment processes identify the right person for the job. Let’s also assume that as an employee progresses in their career at your organisation, they are matched to the right roles that fully utilise their skills and abilities. Yet their personal employee motivation is not what it could be.

To help your employees reach their full potential, leaders must help them to see the connection between their roles and the organisation’s purpose. Do this, and you could see your organisation reach for the moon.

Here are a few ways in which leaders can inspire their employees to connect their roles with organisational purpose.


·      Connect an employee’s passion to your objectives

Discover what an employee’s passions are, and help them see how they overlap with the work they do. Combining what they enjoy doing with what they do at work will help to drive employee motivation.


·      Connect individual purpose to organisational purpose

Uncover an employee’s personal sense of purpose. What is it that they are passionate about? What causes most concern to them? These deep-seated personal purposes motivate people in what they do. When they see the connection between what they value most and what your organisation values most, engagement with their roles and their work increases.


·      Discover who your employees want to help

Who is it that your employees wish to help the most? Are they family people? Do they sit on Parent’s and Teacher’s associations? Are they local councillors, or volunteers for a national charity, or do they coach young people in sport?

Even when people don’t have the time or ability to become directly involved in their passion for others, they may contribute to charities or donate to good causes. These actions give meaning to their lives – every little bit helps. Consider how your purpose connects your employees to the people and causes that mean most to them, and help them to see how their work helps them to achieve this.


Connect your people to their purpose

By now, you have discovered a lot about your employees. You understand what makes them ‘tick’, their inner purpose that will motivate them to achieve their potential. Now it is time to give them the roles and tasks that connect with their inner purpose. Time to make their work meaningful to them by connecting their passion to your organisation’s purpose.

When people connect their roles to their purpose, they take ownership of their work. It is a leader’s job to help their people do this, and by doing so encourage the employee motivation that improves personal productivity. Across the whole workforce, this employee motivation translates to a push in productivity that will propel your organisation to achieve its goals and higher purpose.

When your managers and leaders connect their employees to purpose, those employees will find their work becomes meaningful. They will stop watching the clock. Employee motivation will explode, and the ensuing engagement this produces will benefit both employees and your organisation as, together, you travel to the moon and back.


To understand how our Learning Map could help connect employee and organisational purpose, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

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Read about our vision and purpose solution here:

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