The balance in power has been tipping towards employees and job hunters in a tight labor market, demanding extra effort – and creativity – from employers to attract and retain talent. These efforts have the best chance of success if they are in step with the driving force behind the “Great Reflection,” a term that we find more useful than the “Great Resignation.” Employees aren’t resigning for no reason. Rather, they are re-evaluating how they allocate their time and energy and looking for opportunities to spend more of it on what really matters to them.
That’s where organizational purpose comes in. A purpose-driven organization knows and can articulate why it exists, what problems it is here to solve, and who it wants to be in its interactions with customers and the public. Evidence suggests that purpose-driven companies achieve higher employee and customer satisfaction and grow and gain market share at a faster rate than others. More than ever, employees want to work for a purpose-driven organization. And employees at purpose-driven organizations are more likely to thrive.
The importance of authenticity
Purpose must be embedded in all aspects of the company for it to be authentic. Employees must feel they are a part of the organizational purpose – that they and the larger organization are on the same team, working toward common goals. This belief can be the foundation of an engaged and resilient workforce – but only if resiliency and engagement are supported in all of the organization’s interactions with its employees.
As the mediator of many of these interactions, HR professionals play a critical role in ensuring that policies, practices and benefits reinforce the organization’s purpose and promote resiliency. Benefits are a visible way both to elevate organizational purpose and demonstrate commitment to it. Additionally, benefits can directly impact an employee’s own sense of purpose. For example, providing inclusive family-building benefits – which demonstrate support for LBGTQ+ workers – may be an area where personal and organizational purpose overlap.
Supporting a resilient, purpose-driven workforce
Inventorying your organization’s purpose against the benefits you offer and the commitments they demonstrate can be a valuable exercise. While the strategies employers have in these areas will vary based on their unique purpose and their existing benefits, consider a few best practices for supporting a resilient, purpose-driven workforce:
- Integrate resilience practices into core talent processes such as onboarding, manager training and development, and employee performance.
- Authenticity must start at the top. Leaders can reinforce their commitment to the company purpose with their employees through personal storytelling, an engaging, relatable communications method that builds trust.
- Employee listening is for every day, not once a year. Understanding the needs of your employees – and understanding that their needs will evolve – is key to nurturing resilience.
- Target stress and burnout with mental training practices like mindfulness, compartmentalization or “task batching,” taking breaks throughout the workday.
In Mercer’s recent Global Talent Trends study, “work that fulfills me,” a “sense of belonging” and “organizational purpose I am proud of” were all found to be factors that help employees thrive. The connection between purpose and resiliency has been demonstrated in studies finding better health outcomes, including shorter hospital visits, in people with a sense of purpose. The rewards are clear. Wherever you are on your journey towards becoming a purpose-driven organization, it’s always a good time to assess how your benefits communicate (or don’t communicate) your organization’s purpose.