The Untapped Value of Purpose-Driven Employees
You’re at a cocktail party, meet someone at a mixer or go meet your boyfriend’s family. Probably one of the first series of questions you’re asked is: So what do you do? Where do you work? What’s the company like? This may seem like small talk, but it’s a window into what we value. We value achievement, productivity and hard work. For better or worse, it’s what we focus on and where our conversations often begin.
So what happens if you don’t like what you do, or you’re not proud of where you work? For baby boomers, it was much more prevalent to believe that you don’t need to love your job to be successful. Go to work, be grateful you have a job, work hard, don’t complain, and stay loyal to your boss – and they’ll be loyal to you. But for many Gen Xers, the idea of staying in a job that wasn’t rewarding marked a sign of personal failure.
With Millennials, we have new and much more evolved ideas about how to have a productive and purpose-filled career. Millennials understand that a multi-decade relationship with an employer is not typical anymore and that it’s possible to find opportunities in your work that provide personal fulfillment. However, many millennials also look to extract experience and deliver value, then move onto the next opportunity.
Millennials are the rapidly growing majority of workers worldwide. Their appetite for rapid value exchange has left many HR managers scratching their heads. According to a May 2016 Gallup report, “21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same. Gallup estimates that millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.
Millennials also show less willingness to stay in their current jobs. Half of millennials – compared with 60% of non-millennials – strongly agree that they plan to be working at their company one year from now. For businesses, this suggests that half of their millennial workforce doesn’t see a future with them.”
HR professionals have long known the value of employee recognition and giving people the right level of autonomy. But these are only a couple of motivations to drive employees to invest in a long-term employee/employer relationship. That’s what being purpose driven is all about.
You could even argue that attrition rate is not a measure of loyalty but one of purpose misalignment. Recent studies have shown that reasons for leaving current roles include lack of leadership opportunities, inability to see value in their day-to-day work, and not seeing a bigger impact in the world. What if companies focused on how to engage and activate employees with purpose within the context of their current jobs?
At the end of the day it’s not about holding on to each of your employees and hoping that they stay forever. It’s about leveraging their talents and passions while they are with you. Purpose-driven employees don’t see their relationship with you as employer and employee. They see it as opportunity to having a big impact.
So no matter how you do it, find a way to extract and then integrate individual purposes of each of your employees. It could be a simple statement or even a larger goal. Just keep in mind that the search for purpose is never-ending and always evolving. You have the opportunity to let employees take a journey to purpose… with you as their guide.
Please don’t just survey your employees, but truly help them embark on a journey to find their life’s purpose. Then provide them opportunities that help them test the hypothesis of purpose. That’s an opportunity to build loyalty that lasts a lifetime.
Tommy Lynn is the Chief Brand Officer and Partner at Verb, Inc., an Austin-based social enterprise dedicated to creating authentic connections that activate social innovation.
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