What makes employees want to strive for greatness, reach for the stars, go above and beyond? Often it comes down to having a sense of purpose; a belief that your efforts make an impact on something greater than yourself.
You don’t have to be saving lives to have a meaningful mission—although if you’re a healthcare provider that may in fact be the case. No matter what problem your business solves, you can (and should) show your employees that their individual contributions are important and that they are working towards a worthy mission. Beyond adding meaning to the daily grind, creating a purpose-driven culture can also have a powerful effect on employee engagement and motivation—and ultimately productivity.
KPMG, a tax audit and accounting firm has put this idea to the test and achieved remarkable results . In 2014, KPMG rolled out a “Higher Purpose” initiative, inviting employees to share stories that bring to life the purpose statement, “Inspire confidence. Empower change.” More than 40,000 employees shared stories, illustrating how KPMG’s financial services have supported clients in their efforts to change the world, from championing democracy in South Africa to advancing climate science through the National Science Foundation.
The firm’s research showed that, among employees whose leadership clearly communicated KPMG’s purpose, 91% reported that they were inspired to strive for improvement and take their performance to the next level, versus 57% of employees whose leadership did not follow suit. That’s a tremendous difference!
Now, consider what it means to work without purpose. If the only reason for you to go to work is to earn a paycheck, would you really want to give 110% every day, or would the daily grind start to wear down your motivation? Employee engagement often has little to do with financial incentives, and much to do with factors like having meaningful work and a positive work environment. This implies that failure to provide employees with a sense of meaning can come at a high cost to productivity.
Intentionally communicating your company’s purpose and highlighting examples of individual or team impact within the company can make a real difference. In fact, a 2017 Globoforce/SHRM study found that recognition programs that acknowledge actions demonstrating core company values have the single highest impact on employee engagement and the strongest return on investment.
Clearly however, as we learned from the KPMG example, if a company’s purpose is not communicated well or if certain segments of the company are excluded from communication initiatives, the benefits of these efforts can be limited. That’s why companies use Qnnect to facilitate internal communication and recognize achievements across all departments, reaching even remote workers whose work often goes unseen. By communicating about progress in real time and celebrating major milestones in this way, it’s possible to not only boost morale amongst those directly involved, but to increase the collective sense of purpose throughout your entire organization.
If you want to change the way people work and bring your organization to the next level, you need to develop your company’s culture with a clear purpose. More importantly, you need to communicate that culture internally so that it is experienced and lived by every employee. So before you consider dramatic, top-down policy changes, consider tweaking your internal communications strategy. You can start, quite simply, by making it possible for people to recognize each other for their contributions to a mission that everyone can get behind.
If the last time your employees talked about purpose was on orientation day, it’s time to make a change. To inspire greater achievement, start embedding purpose in your company’s culture by proactively communicating it and acknowledging the impact that people make each and every day.