Employee purpose – How to activate it in your business business purpose podcast

Employee purpose – how to activate it in your business

Sven Dekker

by Sven Dekker

Employee purpose – Purpose is what drives you out of bed in the morning. That’s why leading with purpose inspires and creates an engaged workforce. Incorporating employee purpose into the daily practice of your workforce leads to significantly better working experience as well. 

In this article: 

Activating purpose in employees

What is the power of employee purpose? If you like statistics, eat your heart out:

Thriving employees are 3 times more likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose. Embedding a higher sense of purpose into the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) unlocks individual potential and spurs people to be change agents. 

People are even prepared to exchange a sense of purpose for potential earnings. Nine out of ten employees are willing to earn less to work with purpose, employees are inclined to trade 23% of their entire future lifetime earnings in order to have a job that was always meaningful. They’re 69% less likely to quit within the next 6 months if they find work highly meaningful as well. On top of that, employees stay 7.4 months longer (job tenure) on average than employees who find work lacking in meaning. 

According to a survey amongst Fortune 1000 top executives, employees are driving company purpose. Both new hires (77%) and current employees (76%) are the primary drivers of demand for purpose-driven companies. Next in line are customers (68%), followed by “other stakeholders” (61%), regulators & policymakers (53%), and investors & shareholders (52%). These stakeholders are expected to continue pushing companies to have more purpose in the coming decade.

And it’s not just millennials. Executives say that over the last five years, they’ve seen an increase in the number of Gen-X (69%) and baby-boom employees (46%) who have asked for more opportunities to engage in purposeful work. Roughly 70% of executives report employee desire for purpose is impacting HR’s ability to recruit and retain top talent. 66% report it is transforming traditional approaches to talent recruitment and development, including compensation packages. 75% believe that going forward, compensation alone will not be enough to recruit and retain talent.

Purpose powered by people

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Employee purpose – How Accenture’s purpose ecosystem drives engagement

A lot of currently implemented purpose strategies don’t allow employees to act. Now tell us: how can you internalise a strategy if all you can do is read it? Employees need to be able to tell their own stories about how their personal purpose links to the company’s purpose. To be able to create a story, they need to be able to act. 

The majority of your employees are part of, what we like to call, the act-now generation. This generation wants to participate and be a part of the solution to today’s societal issues. To involve your employees in your purpose and ensure long term adoption, it’s essential to give them the chance to act on their purpose.

In this episode of the business purpose podcast, we invite Kaspar Holznagel, who works at Accenture. Kaspar has been working on implementing the company’s purpose. He dove into the subject on an academic level, but found ways to transform theory into practice. 

That link between theory and practice, and how to find it in any company, is the core of the conversation.

An important purpose challenge

In Kaspar’s words, purpose on the individual level is ‘what drives you out of bed in the morning’.

“Purpose can take all kinds of shapes and forms. It’s something that finds you as a person and that guides you in your life. So it’s an abstract concept, but it mainly comes down to what you care for and that’s different for everyone.”

This ‘what’ is very different for each and every one of us, and thus poses a challenge for companies that want to embed a purpose-driven strategy. How do you build a strategy that everybody can connect with on a deeper personal level?

In an ideal world, everything aligns with one another. But that’s sadly not reality”

Accenture successful purpose program

Accenture’s impact team in the Netherlands has been particularly successful in tackling this challenge, engaging hundreds of employees on their purpose platform, thereby reaching purpose engagement levels of more than 60%.

In this talk, Kaspar takes us on an in-depth journey into Accenture’s approach to purpose execution. He also shares the outlines of his ‘purpose ecosystem’, a broad framework to apply Accenture’s success formula to your company. 

Purpose Ecosystem

Summary of the purpose ecosystem

‘Understanding’ and ‘autonomy’ are at the core of the ecosystem.

Understanding is looked at from both the employee and company perspective.  On the one hand you want to know what your people want and care for. What fuels their energy? And on the other, you want to know the company objectives and purpose.

“Sometimes you have a clash about what you care for and what you have to do. Bringing those two together can be quite a struggle.”

Accenture’s ‘Skills to Succeed’ program, for example, is about helping people to be economically independent to improve their lives. We have been looking at how that resonates with employees and what they care for. 

Autonomy is about the Frame of action. To what degree of freedom do people have to act on their purpose.

In the case of Accenture, the three stakeholders in this game of autonomy and understanding are employees, c-level management and the CSR department. While the degree of autonomy is determined at the board level, The CSR department plays a critical role in creating understanding between employees and the board.

 

Make purpose work for your business

In this blog series, we’ll explore the depths of purpose. What are the benefits for your business, how do you define a corporate purpose, and how can you turn that purpose into a business success? Read on and become a purpose expert yourself!

  1. Corporate purpose: the what, the why, and the how
  2. Purpose, mission, vision, what’s the difference?
  3. The three core benefits of purpose for business (coming soon)
  4. How to define your corporate purpose (coming soon)
  5. 13 companies with purpose
  6. How to use authenticity to create a successful purpose (coming soon)
  7. Employee purpose – How to activate it in your business
  8. The difference between purpose marketing and being purpose driven (coming soon)