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Purpose-led organizations can:
More organizations than ever before are talking about their purpose. That’s largely because employees want to work for organizations that share their values and consumers are paying more attention to the societal impacts and contributions of the companies they do business with.
Purpose can certainly help guide employers in identifying the social issues – from climate change to economic inequality to bias based on race, gender, and sexual orientation – that are most meaningful to their employees and customers. The rise of stakeholder capitalism has also advanced the dialogue around purpose by highlighting the needs of customers, workers, the environment, and communities, along with those of shareholders.
But purpose can seem like a nebulous concept, which challenges many organizations to make their values more than just “words on a wall” (or website). To become part of ongoing operations, purpose must be connected authentically to what organizations offer their customers and workers, as well as their unique core values. Purpose can then be embedded in the cultural fabric and employee experience by linking it to DEI programs, benefits and HR policies, sustainability efforts, and community and philanthropic investments. Employers that “co-create" purpose, based on C-suite leadership and strong, grass roots engagement, have the most success.
MetLife’s 2022 Employee Benefits Trends Study highlights workers’ increasing interest in their organizations’ purpose and in having purposeful work. Purpose also benefits organizations by providing a rallying point and common ground for heterogeneous workforces, including employees with different skills, roles, and backgrounds.
How employees perceive purpose today
The pandemic caused many workers to question the meaning of work and seek more fulfilling roles; in this sense, lack of purposeful work helped fuel the Great Reshuffle. Conversely, a strong sense of purpose both attracts and retains employees, especially Black, Hispanic, LGBTQIA+ and younger workers.
Employees living with a disability
The vast majority of employers think they are providing purpose while significantly fewer employees agree. Specifically, in the eyes of employees, their organizations are not as inclusive as management thinks they are. This suggests that employers have work to do to embed purpose as an integral part of the employee experience and culture and realize the many significant benefits.
The power of purpose: Tangible benefits for organizations that deliver a positive impact
Beyond unifying a diverse workforce around common goals, purpose-led organizations typically benefit from increased employee loyalty, an imperative in a tight labor market. Organizations that offer purposeful work also reap the value of more motivated, engaged, resilient and productive employees.
But the most compelling business case for focusing on purpose can be seen in the increased levels of mental health (condition of psychological and emotional well-being) and social health (the ability to form satisfying interpersonal relationships with others). In fact, purposeful work clearly drives holistic well-being, which also includes financial and physical health.
Recommended actions: How organizations can embed purpose within the employee experience and culture
To create common ground and unify the diverse workforce, employers must co-create their purpose though senior-level leadership and active employee engagement and orchestrate their efforts across the organization. Making purpose part of the culture is not a one-and-done initiative, but rather an evolving process that requires ongoing action.