The Secret is Out: Organizational Purpose Provides Benefits Beyond Altruism

Organizational Purpose

It has been two years since I last wrote about the importance of defining an organizational purpose, or the end benefit to people or society at large. During that time, I’ve seen many people move from skeptics to supporters as evidence of the benefits of doing so continue to mount. From higher employee engagement and retention to higher financial performance for shareholders, the real experiences of purpose-driven companies are showcasing the benefits in  more concrete ways than ever.

Harvard Business Review’s July/August 2018 cover story “When work has meaning, how to turn purpose into performance,” offers eight steps and numerous tidbits on how to create a purpose-driven organization. Among my favorite takeaways from the article:

  • … you do not invent a higher purpose; it already exists.
  • When a company announces its purpose and values but the words don’t govern the behavior of senior leadership, they ring hollow … If your purpose is authentic, people know, because it drives every decision.
  • As leaders embrace higher purpose … they recognize that learning and development are powerful incentives. Employees actually want to think, learn, and grow.
  • Employees need to help drive this process, because then the purpose is more likely to permeate the culture, shaping behavior even when managers aren’t right there to watch how people are handling things.
  • … (research) suggests a positive impact on both financial performance and forward-looking measures of performance when the purpose is communicated with clarity.

Are you ready to explore your purpose? If so, think about how your product, service or organization is making a difference to people and society. Consider your higher-order reason for being beyond making a buck. Better yet, survey your team members and engage them on this topic or hold a brown bag lunch where employees can contribute their opinions. And, if you need a hand, we’re here to help.