The previous blog in this Q&A series focussed on the major reason as to why customer service is often not at the forefront of modern business activity. I hope that my readers enjoyed my perspectives on customer lifetime value and word-of-mouth. This blog post answers questions surrounding why I focus on purpose beyond economics within the workplace.
Question: Why is so much of your work in employee engagement focused on purpose and values?
Most people lead transactional lives. They brush their teeth, go to work, do what’s expected of them, go home and watch TV. Their actions are not driven by any specific intention or purpose.
Organisations are similar. They produce widgets and want to achieve economic goals but typically lack a purpose beyond economics. Our research shows a negative correlation with employee engagement to the statement “My organisation exists purely to make money.” This strongly suggests that employees are looking for organisations to have a purpose beyond economics. Perhaps this is the reason why close to 70% of employees across industries are disengaged at work.
Values are fundamentally what you value as an individual or as an organisation. If you can do what you value at work, then effectively you go to play not to work. Suddenly, work is fulfilling and fun.
The next big question we need to ask is: “What makes people get up and go to work every day?” Most people want to attach themselves to something meaningful that is bigger than themselves. This is where ‘purpose’ plays a pivotal role in driving engagement.
Purpose is your ‘why’. It’s the answer to the questions of “Why am I here? How do I make a difference?” There is a saying that “The meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of your life is to give it away.”
Effectively, if you do what you value you are good at it. In other words, you have found your gift. If you have found your purpose and you can live it, suddenly you are ‘on purpose’ and are leading a purposeful life.
Therefore, purpose and values are two powerful elements that have the power to bind a person to their organisation. Organisations need to find a way to build a strong link between the purpose and values of itself and those of its employees.
For example, an engineer who values innovation and quality will be most engaged in a company that makes significant investments in their R&D to create unique products. At the same time, if the engineer sees that the company is pushing mediocre products into the market to make quick profits, he may not see value in working there. Hence, a value match is essential to foster greater engagement.
The only people that don’t really care about purpose and values are people that are driven primarily, singularly, by their ego. The person who is motivated to just get ahead and make money at all costs doesn’t care about a purpose beyond money – but thankfully there are not that many of these people in the workforce.