Why Purpose will become a real differentiator in attracting and keeping talent.

Bring Purpose to Work

  • December 30, 2015 5:25 pm
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Purpose will become a real differentiator in whether we will be able to attract or retain the best talent, to engage our workforce and whether we will be attractive for the consumer.

In Aaron Hurst’s recent book Purpose Economy, he states that after the Agricultural, the Industrial and the Information economy we are now about to land in the Purpose economy.
No doubt a bold statement. And one we would like to link with some trends that we see happening in organisations we work with.

Engagement drops, volunteering on the rise

All major research studies show a significant decrease in employee engagement in the past few years. A Gallup worldwide study (2013) shows a disengagement level of 66% at the European level. 20% are even actively disengaged (“I only work for the salary”). Astonishing. In the meantime we see an increase in the employees willingness to volunteer. Some take up the role of treasurer in the local football club, others actively participate in the local library, some of them even organize music concerts. Why? They are looking for purpose, for meaning. As Jessica B. Rodell, a professor at the University of Georgia, has found in her research, “when jobs are less meaningful, employees are more likely to increase volunteering to gain that desired sense of meaning.” Meaning is about being engaged.

Purpose + Profit: the new normal
How do we often try to engage people in our organisations? With facts, figures and spreadsheets? There is no doubt that these are important but if that’s the only argument then we will fail to engage our workforce. Author Joey Reiman in The Story of Purpose confirms: “People are not motivated by the bottom line, they want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.”
What is your compelling story your people want to belong to? Do you really know what your people are passionate about? What fuels, drives them? What are their real strengths? How do we foster building networks in our organisations? Do we remain holding on to the job descriptions or are we able to explain to people how their job concretely contributes to the mission of the company? To cut a long story short: are people really proud to work for your company? Really? What would happen to our bottom line if a large number were proud to work for us? Towers Perin calculated (European Talent Survey, 2014) that a 5% increase in total employee engagement correlates to a .7% increase in operating margin. Isn’t that a win-win? Jobs are no longer about the job as such but about what we are able to bring to it.

What do your Consumers say?

Doing well while doing good is becoming more and more accepted. According to Edelman’s GoodPurpose research study (2012) 76% of global consumers believe it’s acceptable, a 33% increase from 2008! Moreover, when quality and price are equal the most important factor influencing brand choice is social purpose!


What is your compelling story your people want to belong to?

It all shows that purpose is not about being soft. It impacts both our employees and our consumers to the extent that would be a pity to neglect. Both profit thinking and purpose thinking are coming closer together and will soon go hand in hand. Organisations and brands that pick this up will be ahead of the game. They will be the ones attracting and retaining the best talent; they will be the ones building brand trust with consumers. On top of that they will make this world a better place.

This article was written by Bart Van Bambost

An entrepreneur, executive coach and international speaker with +20 years of international working experience in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin-Amerika and USA. Read more about Bart
Bart Van Bambost