Purpose as a catalyst to boost employee engagement


by GoodUp Info

The business case for purpose is gaining substantial proof. Research shows that 40% of the U.S. workforce is purpose-oriented, in Western Europe these numbers are as high as 50%. Progressive HR leaders have been very successful by implementing the power of purpose into their strategy.

During our webinar on purpose as a catalyst to boost employee engagement, we outlined several best practices on the implementation of purpose by forward thinking HR leaders, backed by recently gathered data.

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Just to be on the same page, we use the following definition of purpose: Your purpose is where your core skills and expertise (as a business) make a positive societal impact.

Now, after the full slide deck below we’ll dive into how purpose can help you boost employee engagement.

Watch the full recording of our webinar here.

How does purpose help you professionally?

A strong purpose, is a great way to boost your employer branding. A staggering 90% of your workforce is willing to earn less if they found a job that resonated with their personal purpose.

The key challenge is to make that purpose part of your corporate identity. When you achieve that, you can reduce the cost of disengagement by a whopping 9,000 dollar! (Yes, that’s per employee.)

And because the labour market has been tight for a while, it’s important to make yourself stand out as an employer. A big part of our webinar audience mentioned that they’re interested in purpose as a way to boost their employer branding.

So how do you do that, creating a purpose that resonates with your employees? 

Three purpose principles

Over the years, we have talked to hundreds of business leaders. During these talks, we recognised three principles that are key to make your purpose part of your core business.

Principle 1: Create a purpose framework

Your purpose framework acts as a base for your activities and allows your employees to resonate with your purpose. A good framework consists of:

  • A purpose statement: what you strive to do as a company
  • The pillars on which it rests: the areas, or themes, in which you want to bring your statement to life.

It’s important to link your statement and themes to your core business. A great example of this is the purpose framework of Booking.com. As a big player in the travel industry, their purpose statement revolves around sustainable travel and they base that statement on themes like conserving natural resources and inclusive tourism.

Principle 2: Give your employees the opportunity to contribute

Once you established your framework, the challenge is to bring your purpose to life. The majority of your employees are part of the, what we like to call, act-now generation. This generation wants to participate and be a part of the solution. To involve your employees in your purpose, it’s essential to give them the chance to set up initiatives themselves.

Principle 3: Put your employees’ skills and expertise central

Activating your employees is a great start, but matching employees with skill-based initiatives is where true meaningful engagement begins. Facilitating skill-based matching leads to two things:

  • Employees can act on their own personal purpose
  • They can do it with the skills that make them unique.

On top of that, research shows that this not only boosts engagement but also improves the skills they bring back to the workplace. Win-win!

Almost half of our webinar audience said that matching their employees’ skills with initiatives would be the most beneficial principle to them.

Making purpose tangible: 4 stages of transforming  purpose into action

A well-incorporated purpose strategy is not something that happens overnight. In our daily business, we’ve identified 4 maturity stages in companies.

Stage 1: Corporate giving

The first stage is corporate giving: companies donating money to charities. This is a great first step, but also a classic example of the top-down communication we talked about earlier. To make your purpose a part of your core business, you’ll need to activate your employees.

Stage 2: Corporate volunteering

At this stage, you ask your employees to contribute their time or knowledge to societal projects. Think taking a day off to fish plastic out of the canals with the whole office. A great way to give back to society and inspire your employees to act. However, you’re leaving some engagement potential on the table when the activities have nothing to do with your core business.

Stage 3: Purpose employee engagement

This is where meaningful engagement starts. You allow your employees to contribute to the corporate purpose by using their skills. Now you’re not just donating time and money, but you’re using your expertise and network to do good. This is also the moment your purpose starts to live outside your company walls. For example by starting projects to make internal processes more sustainable or collaborate with partners to help with that.

Stage 4: Purpose into action

This is the holy grail of purpose. When you put your purpose into action, you’re engaging not just your employees, but work together with all your stakeholders and partners on a more sustainable future.

Companies that successfully act on their purpose

The fourth stage may seem daunting, but you don’t have to be in that stage to start making meaningful impact. We have seen many successful programs in all of the different maturity stages. Here are three examples, we hope they’ll inspire you!

DLL – Corporate giving and volunteering

DLL is a great example of purpose during the first two maturity stages. The company organises an annual fundraising week where employees can donate their money to local projects and communities. DLL did a great job in selecting themes that truly fit their core business and purpose.

Booking – Purpose employee engagement

Booking.com is a great example of a company that is successfully connecting personal purpose to their core business. To boost the engagement they organise the Booking Booster, an annual event where they create and promote sustainable travel startups. The employees of Booking.com are encouraged to help out the startups with their skills.

Accenture – Purpose employee engagement

Accenture has a similar approach, but they add a little extra. Every year they organise the Making a Difference Battle: an event where their employees have 24 hours to create a project that solves a societal or environmental issue. The winner of the battle receives a financial contribution to help the project grow. Accenture saw a big increase in the interest in the social impact and purpose programme.

You can read more about the Making a Difference Battle 2019 and the results here.

During our webinar, we saw that 42% of the participants thought an event like the Making a Difference Battle would really resonate in their company.

How do you want to make a difference?

Creating a purpose and making it part of your core identity might sound like a lot of work, but the benefits your will get in return will be so so worth it. And you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to help you along the way: whether you want to pick our brain for insights or have us help set us your purpose framework, just send us an email at info@goodup.com and we’ll help you out.