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    August 21, 2023

    The Importance of Purpose

    For many leaders, the key driver to moving a company forward has been quarterly returns, the profit margin and staying ahead of the competition. For many it still is and that makes sense from a business perspective. But more and more employees at all levels also want to be part of an organization that has a strong sense of purpose beyond financial gain.

    “The intent to leave or stay in a job is only one of the things that people are questioning as part of the larger human story we are living,” says Caitlin Duffy, Research Director in Gartner’s HR practice. “You could call it the ‘Great Reflection.’ ...It’s critical to deliver value and purpose.” 

    There have been organizations that believe that “golden handcuffs” are the answer. Pay people enough money and they will get the job done, regardless of what that may be. This approach created work cultures that rely on a “churn and burn” approach. A new employee comes into the organization, and they are paid well. You can get them to work 60, 70, even 80+ hours a week. They’ll stay for the money for five to seven years and then move on. You can then replace them with the next new hire. However, for organizations that take this approach that timeline has now shrunk. Some new hires only stay one year, increasing recruiting and training costs significantly. Younger Millennials and Gen-Zers are looking for more. Older workers want more balance and also want to feel there is a reason for working at a company beyond a paycheck.  

    Workers' focus on wanting to feel they are contributing to something meaningful is creating a higher rate of turnover and is increasing costs for organizations. A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation showed that 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.

    Your company's brand purpose tells your customers why you exist. It also informs everyone in your workforce about why they want to be part of the company, stay engaged, and it should also be a way they can easily share why they work at the company with their friends and family. A study by Northwestern University found that when companies had a greater sense of purpose, their employees reported their work was more meaningful. Having a strong sense of the company’s purpose also has a connection to overall health and wellbeing.  

    “Research shows that individuals who have a strong sense of purpose and meaning in life tend to have better mental health, overall well-being, and cognitive functioning compared to those who lack a sense of purpose.” Psychology Today, 2022

    What You Can Do

    Be clear about not just what you do as an organization, but why you do it. Take the time to understand if everyone in your organization is connected to that sense of purpose.

    If you are creating a new purpose statement, make sure that you get diverse feedback from different levels in your organization. The statement should be easy to understand by everyone and be reflective of your unique work culture.


    • American Family Insurance: We’re dedicated to inspiring, protecting, and restoring your dream.
    • Becton Dickinson: We will consistently provide superior products and services in pursuit of our purpose of advancing the world of health.
    • Coty: To celebrate and liberate the diversity of your beauty.

    Questions to Get You Started:

    • What is your company’s unique view of purpose?
    • If you have a statement, does it resonate at all levels of the company?

    Both personally and professionally, being connected to a deep sense of purpose supports better health and wellbeing.  Your organization’s purpose, when it is clear and there is buy in by employees at all levels, can have a positive impact on your company.

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