Becoming a company with a purpose: How to establish a purpose-driven workplace

min read

CEOs and economists agree: Purpose-driven organizations are the future. But what does it mean to be a company with a purpose and what are the benefits?

From personal to corporate purpose

Giving our existence and actions a purpose and meaning is a basic human need. As generation Y entered the job market, having a purpose began to grow from an individual personal desire to a complex economic factor: Workers search for employers whose principles align with their own. Simultaneously, consumers are increasingly aware of the purpose (or lack thereof) of a company when making purchase decisions. 

Creating an organization with a purpose

In reaction to this development, many companies have started to shift from focusing solely on their economic value in terms of sales, growth and profit, to contributing to a bigger purpose as a part of society. They are not just offering a service or product anymore: They also establish strategies that have a social or environmental impact. This “purpose-beyond-profit” approach means that not only the company itself thrives but that it also helps others thrive – be it their employees, their customers, other organizations or society at large. The key to success is authenticity and longevity: Corporate purposes like sustainability or social justice cannot be mere marketing tools or singular campaigns, they need to be embedded into the organization’s DNA and act as a main guideline for all corporate decisions.

Why your organization should have a purpose

Standing for something as an organization is not just about creating a nice image: It can set a company apart from the competition, make it relevant and lead to long-term success. Studies have shown that purpose-driven brands grow up to three times faster than brands without a clearly communicated and owned purpose. The two main factors contributing to this growth are:

  • Employee satisfaction: Believing in a purpose and belonging to something bigger that can bring forth positive change is essential for how satisfied and motivated employees are. By committing to a purpose, companies can create a sense of community and meaning that result in higher productivity and growth rates as well as high innovation and retention levels. It also attracts top talent that is not only highly qualified but also passionate about the cause.
  • Customer satisfaction: As more and more consumers are aware of how their purchase decisions impact society and the environment, the way a company deals with these issues becomes an increasingly important factor in their decision process. Connecting with customers through a purpose they identify with and that helps them make a difference can lay the foundation for strong customer relationships and long-term relevance in their lives. 

Ways to contribute to a purpose – a mentoring program is one possibility

Purpose-driven initiatives are most effective when they are individually tailored to a company. Still, there are universal ways in which every organization can contribute, e.g.:

  • donating products or services to those in need
  • donating money to nonprofit organizations
  • ensuring sustainability and fair working conditions in every business area and every step of the supply chain
  • funding R&D programs projects to find solutions for social and environmental issues
  • getting involved in community projects
  • supporting employees in their ambitions by giving them the necessary resources, e.g. through mentoring

The long way to owning your purpose

Becoming a purpose-driven organization is a long and complex process that often requires fundamental changes in a company’s practices and principles. This can be a big challenge for established organizations with vast numbers of global branches. One of the results of these difficulties is an “intention-delivery gap”: There is a discrepancy between the proclaimed goals and the actual actions implemented to get there. The inability to close this gap can have serious consequences: Through the growing transparency and flow of information via social media, the public is well informed about corporate behavior and quick to take action when unsatisfied.

Purpose in times of crisis

The beginning of the Covid pandemic was an abrupt economic turning point: While more and more employees question the purpose of their work, many of them did not have the luxury of choosing a purpose-driven job or work environment anymore. While this crisis should remind us that you don’t have to rely on a job to give your life meaning and fulfillment and that every kind of work has value and dignity, it gave purpose-driven organizations the chance to follow up their words with actions: Many companies chose social responsibility over short-term profit by setting up assistance and relief programs for their employees and those in need.

Online mentoring can be a way to support employees and external target groups, with mentoring programs for professional development, career returners or wellbeing and resilience. If you’re interested in finding out more, please feel free to schedule a call with us here.

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