Chances are you spend a lot of time tracking your competitors. You need to know which new clients they’ve scored. And you should understand how your product or service compares to theirs. But do you have a clue about how they’re treating their most precious commodity? If they’re making employee purpose part of their retention strategy, you should be too.
Employee Purpose Matters
Researchers point to the COVID-19 pandemic as the turning point when it comes to employees gaining new vision around employment. They believe employees developed 20–20 vision about how they want the work they do to matter, all day, every day. It’s possible that the millennials who came of age during the Great Recession also contribute to this new attitude about work. Employees aren’t running to non-governmental or nonprofit organizations to fill this existential void. Instead, they are demanding that their for-profit employers be accountable for how and what they produce.
McKinsey analysts caution that “purpose is not just ‘another corporate initiative.’” Employees know all too well how many initiatives work out. For example, we’re already seeing signs of businesses cutting back on the “greenwashing” wave that captured marketing dollars in recent years. It turns out, in many cases, that operating profitably while also meeting promised “green” targets, is close to impossible for many businesses. In fact, some companies are being fined because of deceptive marketing on that front.
To be effective, deploy a more personalized concept. To understand whether your employees are getting what they want from work, you need to understand their motivators. This is a task designed for psychometric assessments. Research shows that most employees get the best part of their "purpose" need satisfied through their work lives. But only 15% of non-executives feel they “are living their purpose in their day-to-day work." This situation will lead employees who don’t feel connected to purpose at work to look for other jobs.
How is this situation reinforced in the modern organization? Too often, leaders keep information to themselves. It may be for competitive reasons, or it may be out of habit. Whatever the reason, when employees don’t understand what’s happening in an organization, they don’t “see a connection between their daily work and the organization’s purpose.”
If your employees are crafting part of a medical device such as a defibrillator, for example, they may not realize they’re contributing to building a lifesaving piece of equipment unless managers make it clear in team meetings.
To make this connection for your employees, check out the marketing material you produce for prospects and customers. In these pieces of content, you brag about the reliability of the equipment. You might even boast about how many lives were saved in the past year during use in the field.
Your employees need to hear this information, too. And sharing customer praise about the product can help them feel connected on many levels.
Two-Way Communication and Employee Purpose
Don’t be hold back customer complaints either. Many of your employees would welcome the chance to suggest improvements to product features. In addition, they may be able to pinpoint a process problem that has stalled production more than once. But because nobody has asked for their opinion, they haven’t given it. Handling a customer complaint successfully can increase the sense of employee purpose.
As a corporate leader, you may expect your employees to step up and offer suggestions without being asked. But if you haven’t established a climate that welcomes all forms of feedback, many employees will hold back. If an employee fears retribution from an insecure manager, you can be sure they’ll have little to say in a companywide meeting.
Catering to employee purpose may feel overwhelming. You can better manage the process by personalizing purpose and sharing information.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.
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