As discussed in Part 1 of this series, creating a purpose-driven business is not something that should concern only CEOs and branding professionals. As a manager, purpose can also boost engagement, productivity, and well-being. Employees who are inspired by the company’s purpose and its leaders show a completely new level of engagement.
However, too many employees—even those who are inspired by their leaders—don’t feel a real connection to the company’s purpose. They can’t relate to generic slogans like “We save lives” since they don’t see a link to their everyday work.
5 tips to connect employees to your company’s purpose
Here are 5 tips to help you tie your employees’ everyday work to your company’s purpose:
- Feel the company’s purpose. The first step is to fully understand your company’s purpose and to know how the organization is promoting it. This sets the foundation for you to start communicating the purpose to your employees. It is critical that you believe in the company’s purpose, especially when it comes to millennial employees, because if you don’t feel a genuine connection to it, your employees will sense that and won’t buy into it either.
- Make your employees feel your company’s purpose by communicating how this comes to life. As soon as you feel your company’s purpose, you can become an advocate for it. Often employees perceive purpose as just another marketing slogan. Use the power of customer references, CSR projects, and other proof-points to convince them. If your employees don’t buy it, you may want to consider starting with tips 3 and 4.
- Look for ties between everyday work and your company’s purpose on an individual level. As discussed in Part 1 of this series, employees often struggle to see a clear link between their role and the company’s purpose. As a leader, it is your job to actively search for these ties. For example, a clinic’s purpose might be something like “We save lives.” Although this sounds powerful, an HR employee might struggle to see the link between their job and saving lives. This is where your leadership skills are required. An HR professional in a clinic might handle payroll, work-life balance issues, and other HR demands so healthcare providers can focus on saving the lives of patients. HR employees make this possible, and they need to understand that. The same holds true for every other function in the clinic.
- Implement purpose talks. Once you identify the connection between your employees’ everyday work and your company’s purpose, you need to actively communicate these findings to them. Use the insights as a starting point to talk to employees about their contribution to the purpose. This will help them see those ties and perceive their work in a new way. This is where the seeds for real inspiration are sown.
- Repeat on an individual basis. Connecting employees to the company’s purpose is not a one-time task, but a long-term commitment to boost engagement and inspiration. That does not mean you need to talk purpose in every meeting, but the power of inspiration is comparable to the power of emotion – it is important to refresh and activate it regularly. So think about how you can schedule recurring purpose talks based on roles and individual feedback. Returning to the clinic example: You likely won’t need to remind surgeons that they are saving lives every day, but an HR professional might need this talk every quarter or so.
As a leader, you need to feel the company’s purpose, become an advocate for it, search for ties between everyday work and the purpose, and regularly communicate these ties to your employees.
Purpose-driven leadership can also help you and your employees reach the next level of employee engagement: inspiration. Remember that inspired employees are not only the most productive, they are also the best advocates for your company and your brand, and they will in turn communicate this to others.