Cultivating A Corporate Purpose

Cultivating a Corporate Purpose

As employers have continued to struggle with recruiting and retention in the last few years, many have taken a deeper dive into what candidates and employees really want out of work. And one thing is clear: Purpose is king.

According to recent research by McKinsey & Co., nearly 70% of Americans tie their individual purpose to that of their employer—and younger workers including millennials and Gen Zers want to be particularly aligned to the purpose of where they work. Developing a strong organizational purpose isn’t just a “nice-to-have” to get talent in the door—it can drive significant business outcomes. For instance, Gallup found that employees who believe their employer has a positive impact on society and the planet are more than five times as likely as those who don’t share that view to trust leadership. And that can have wide impacts: Research from Harvard Business Review found that purposeful companies have workforces that are better positioned to innovate and embrace transformation, while their profits also outrank less-purposeful organizations.

However, strengthening purpose isn’t as straightforward as rolling out a new benefit or announcing a flexible schedule policy; it takes time and cultivation to truly take hold. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set out to bolster your company’s purpose:

3 realities about corporate purpose

  1. It needs to start at the top: Like all enterprise-wide initiatives, strengthening company purpose must originate from the very top of the organization: the C-suite. Leadership buy-in—and modeling—emphasizes to the workforce that the effort is authentic. Consider town halls with the CEO or other leaders on organizational purpose and frequent communications about organizational efforts tied to the fulfillment of that purpose.
  2. Purpose must be ingrained across the organization: A company with a strong corporate purpose considers that mission in all aspects of the operation—from employee benefits and ESG efforts to diversity, equity and inclusion and recruiting and retention strategies. A true purpose isn’t just window dressing or words on a paper: It must be at the heart of all of the company’s policies and practices—both internally and externally.
  3. It needs ongoing reinforcement: Like organizational culture, purpose needs ongoing tending to in order to grow in a sustainable way. HR and other business leaders should revisit, revise, and continually iterate to ensure that the company and its workforce are striving toward the purpose.

As we head into a new year, this is an ideal time to transform how your organization aligns with and pursues a greater purpose. Because, just like a garden flourishes with the right amount of attention, care, and even strategy, purpose too can take root and blossom if it’s given the priority it deserves. That can in turn strengthen the employee value proposition, enhance recruiting and retention, and put the company on the path toward a more profitable future.

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