Many companies boast of altruistic mission statements and entice job seekers by highlighting their purpose-driven cultures. But as well meaning as these efforts may be, even employees in highly mission-driven organizations can have trouble feeling a sense of purpose in their work.
For those who seek to make a positive impact on the world, this disconnect between what the company says and what the day-to-day is like can cause them to feel disengaged and pessimistic at work. They may even decide to change companies or careers in search of something more fulfilling.
Creating a purpose-driven organization is not an easy task, but it can have a profound impact on your business results. Organizations driven by a purpose outperform others by a factor of 12. Furthermore, employees who feel a sense of meaning at work report 70 percent higher levels of satisfaction and are three times as likely to stay with their employers.
Establishing and communicating a purpose may be what your organization needs to retain talent now and, in urgent circumstances, survive into the future.
Do My Employees Feel a Sense of Purpose?
Many leaders think they have a clear purpose and that their employees are dedicated to it. It can come as quite a shock when they learn that the dedication, passion, and drive it took build the organization are not translating to new hires, who don’t understand or feel the original intention of the organization’s founders.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if your employees truly feel a sense of purpose at work:
1. Does My Organization Have Statements and/or General Sayings That Speak to Our Purpose?
You don’t need a formal mission statement to have a purpose, but it is necessary for your organization to communicate its purpose in some form or another that can be shared with employees, applicants, shareholders, and other stakeholders.
2. Do We Talk About Our Purpose Regularly?
Does your purpose come up in all-company meetings? When new products or processes are introduced? During times of organizational change? In office decor and employee-oriented collateral? When DTE Energy began to regularly push its purpose in communications with employees at all levels, it saw a significant positive impact on organizational commitment.
3. Can Our Company’s Purpose Be Adapted for Different Teams or Individuals?
At Waggl, we were founded with the purpose of making work more human. For some of us, that means nerding out over our app and the value of technology in elevating employee voices. Others love the way our approach can impact business performance for our customers. Others are motivated by feeling connected to their colleagues when we participate in internal feedback loops. We are a diverse group of people, and each of us finds our own sense of meaning within our organization’s purpose.
4. Do Employees Get Frustrated When They Are Asked to Do Something Outside the Scope of Their Job Description?
Do people resent it when they need to get their hands dirty in difficult times, or do they band together and approach challenges as a team? When people feel a strong sense of purpose that is bigger than a narrow job description, they may be more likely to face tough times with positive attitudes. When they feel distant from the organization’s mission, asking them for greater commitment might trigger feelings of anger, frustration, and resentment.
Depending on how you answered the above questions, you might consider taking a step back to determine how you can create a strong sense of purpose and/or communicate it to your employees.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Waggl blog.
Bridget Zapata is a marketing specialist at Waggl, the most human way for organizations to crowdsource feedback.