Harness the Power of Purpose to Engage Employees

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Each year Temkin Group identifies a theme, an area of focus, that we believe is important for customer experience professionals and the organizations they work for to pay attention to. 2017 has been the “Year of Purpose.”

As we bring the year to a close, I wanted to reflect on what the Year of Purpose means to me. Personally, I was very excited about this year’s focus on purpose, as purpose runs overtly and subtly through so much of my research on employee engagement. One of the things we are learning through our own exploration of the principles emerging from the science of positive psychology is that individuals bring their own purpose to the workplace. That purpose will either (1) align employees with the company’s purpose and energize them to work in support of it or (2) not match with the company’s purpose and leave employees feeling like they just don’t fit.

We found in Temkin Group’s survey of over 5,600 US full-time employees when those two purposes do align and employees feel like their work contributes to the success of the company, they act in ways that help the company and their coworkers. Compared to employees who don’t feel this way, engaged employees are:

• Three times more likely to stay late at work if something needs to be done
• Over four times more likely to do something good for the company that is not expected of them
• Five times more likely to recommend the company’s products and services to someone who might need them
• Over five times more likely to recommend an improvement that can be made at the company

While our Year of Purpose may be coming to a close, its importance doesn’t go away. Here are two things you can keep in mind to harness the power of purpose to engage employees:

Employees thrive on purpose and meaning. Meaning can come from many different things in the workplace—from having their contributions appreciated to experiencing high quality interactions with others. One powerful tactic to help employees see the company’s purpose in action – including the part each of them plays in delivering it – is to connect employees to customers or end-users. To do this, companies can create opportunities for employees to meet and hear from customers directly about their experiences through things like customer panels, customer visits, or customer videos. A company might also provide employees the opportunity to experience the company’s products or services themselves, as Four Seasons Hotels does by giving employees free overnight stays.

If leaders want to accelerate change, then they need to change what people see as possible. By painting a picture of what’s possible, leaders actually generate more willpower in employees to go after that vision. Leaders should begin by having a clear purpose that they communicate across the organization—why it is important, what success looks like, and how the company will get there with the help of employees. When leaders are able to get people invigorated by the possibilities in this pursuit of purpose, and then actively model the positive behaviors that will make the change successful, they create opportunities for their employees to follow their lead.

Purpose gives people inspiration and motivation. Purpose connects individuals together in pursuit of a shared goal or vision. Through their employee engagement efforts, companies need to do things that help employees embrace both the company’s purpose as well as their own—and direct both towards mutual good.

For those of you who have put an emphasis on purpose in 2017, I hope you’re seeing the difference it makes. Thanks for being on this year’s journey with us. And I hope everyone continues to elevate purpose in your organizations in 2018 and beyond!

To learn more about the Year of Purpose, visit our dedicated site ElevatePurpose.com.

As part of our celebration of the Year of Purpose, we created a scholarship program for not-for-profit organizations to attend our workshops for free. We’re extending that program into 2018! You can learn more about the program and how to apply here.

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