Purpose in business is no longer just an option
More and more we’re seeing businesses transitioning to becoming full purpose-led organizations. I was recently discussing with one of my colleagues the importance of this shift and how the workforce nowadays chooses to apply to organizations that are aligned with purposes that they relate to and are motivated to achieve.
As we discussed this, an idea came to mind: organizations nowadays are not only being asked to orient their actions towards their consumers (B2C), other businesses (B2B), or profit. There is an increasing need to guide their actions towards people, purpose, and the planet.
That’s when we came up with the basis of our B4P framework: Business For Purpose, People, Planet, and Profit.
While in the past, the purpose was a good addition, almost a nice to have, these days it has become a must-have.
According to Mckinsey, individuals can find purpose in three different ways: outside of work (with family, volunteer activities, etc), from work (through work activities that energize and ignites them), and from the organization (company purpose and culture).
When it comes to recruitment, organizations that are driven by purpose also seem to be outperforming the market (Deloitte Insights, “2020 Global Marketing Trends”). More and more, talented people want to work for a cause. When you work because you are motivated by your organization’s mission and not because of the financial benefit, that’s when the engagement, the entrepreneurial mindset, the high performance, and giving that extra 10% come to play. So, people who live their purpose at work outperform those who do not.
I dare say that nowadays, people are increasingly seeking to feel complete in all three of those spheres. Or at least I know it holds true for me and for the people I interact with on a daily basis.
The way you can support your people in finding purpose outside of work is by making sure you allow them to have a good work-life balance and even work-life integration. When people look after themselves and their physical and mental health, this is ultimately reflected in their work.
When the employment arrangement is fair and suitable to the employee’s needs and the organization’s culture is healthy, the other factor that needs to be addressed is the employee’s motivation for devoting time to support the business growth.
When leaders are not aware of this, they struggle with employee engagement and productivity.
And how can a leader find what motivates every one of its people to find purpose at work?
- Start by analyzing individual objectives;
- Find out how each person can help the business improve and expand;
- Define and assign personal performance metrics;
- Share personal and business goals with the team and select an accountability buddy to ensure these goals are achieved.
If in the first stage the individual objectives do not align with the organization’s mission and values, the leader should always support the employee in the transition to finding a role within the organization that is more aligned with what they want to do. Like in any other business relationship, the end goal is to ensure that the stakeholder is satisfied.
As for the organization’s purpose and culture, don’t suppose that the fact that your workforce doesn’t directly talk about the matter of purpose with you means that they believe it is good enough, or that they agree with it. Take the initiative to engage in discussions and understand where everyone stands.
Luckily, there has been an increasing rise in purpose-led companies. With social networks and all types of media outlets, people now can more easily learn about how companies operate internally and how they impact the external environment.
As businesses become aware of this, many brands start to support causes and address social problems that are somehow aligned with their own mission and values. Equally, it has also become easier to see through the superficiality of some initiatives. It’s become quite easy to gauge whether the companies are actually living the purpose or if it is just a marketing gimmick.
While in the past, these actions would be taken by NGOs or a very small number of organizations, nowadays, becoming a purpose-led business is the path to follow.
I myself got inspired to work for a purpose when I was living in Australia and heard about the work done by many social entrepreneurs like Lauren Shuttleworth, Nicholas Marchesi, and brands like the Thank You or Who Gives a Crap – everything they do is entirely connected to a cause. And it goes beyond a slogan or a campaign. There is no purpose-washing going on there as we see happening with some brands in the market. Thank You is owned by a charitable trust that then distributes its funds to impactful change-makers that support vulnerable communities to fight inequity, scarcity, and poverty. And Who Gives a Crap donates 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.
Companies not only have to say they’re supporting a cause, but they also have to demonstrate that they’re actually doing something and exactly what they’re doing by being more transparent in how they do business.
As for us at the Great Shift, every service or sale we make is connected to giving. Every month, we rotate between our employees in choosing the causes (aligned to our overall purpose) we support through B1G1. It always impresses us how, with the work we do every month, we can create a big impact such as bringing water to remote communities in Africa or even giving a child access to education for a whole year. These are some of the things that keep us motivated to do better and achieve more to support and help more and more causes.
We preferably support causes that are connected to our clients and with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of our main clients, ART (Australian Radio Towers), is very focused on the Aboriginal cause in Australia. As a result, when we do our giving, we make sure to give back to the Aboriginal communities in the country. And every month we send our clients a report stating which causes we fund through our business relationship.
At Great Shift, our main purpose is to build better tomorrows. We do it by:
- Inspiring other organizations to become more ethical, purpose-driven, and led with a human-centric approach through our own example;
- Giving back to the causes that are dear to our hearts, and creating an impact in the world and in the lives of others;
- Helping organizations co-create a better future of work by upgrading their own culture and leadership style. This, in turn, will help the stakeholders of those organizations to have a higher level of work-life balance and satisfaction.
My advice for leaders who themselves are defining their purpose and the actions to take in achieving them is to ask yourself and your people what drives you. Think of solutions you can bring to the world and how the world can benefit from them in both the present and the future. Make sure you can measure your impact and share it with both your people and the world – this is what will really help you stay motivated in the long run.