Finding your Company (Some) Purpose

Purpose is a hot topic right now. Not only personal purpose, but it’s written that companies with a strong social or cultural purpose overall will fair better than those that don’t. A survey from Deloitte found that the numbers are there:

The survey, which sampled 1,310 U.S. adults, found that 90% of people who believe their organization has a strong sense of purpose also report a strong financial showing in the business over the past year. They also report high employee and customer satisfaction. Only 65% of respondents who say they work for an organization without a strong culture of purpose report a good financial performance in the company. Customer satisfaction is relatively low (63%) and employee satisfaction is dismal (19%). – Fast Company

Building a company with a hefty cultural purpose will be rewarded with lower turnover, higher employee satisfaction, and more and more young folks will want to work there. Just think Warby Parker or Toms. Unfortunately, there can be a fair bit of disconnect between how much purpose your company has from the executives’ opinion to the actual staff. As a leader or in the c-suite you may think your company is rolling in purpose. However, your employees may see things a different way.

So? How do you figure out your purpose as a company? It can be a difficult process – even more so if your company inherently doesn’t have an easily defined purpose outside of your actual, day-to-day work.

So your company doesn’t have an easy purpose-route. That’s okay, here are some options that work well for any company:

  • Have (many) purpose days – Make it a mix of self-led, and employee-led. When employees have a purpose day, ask them to write about their experience, or even present. When an employee organizes a purpose to day to soup kitchen or building site, consider giving them a gift, or an extra day of PTO to show your thanks.
  • Donations – in the winter time offer up your office to be an area of winter coats, or run a food drive every once in a while
  • Pro-bono – if you’re a services agency, consider some partnerships that you do at a lower cost. Maybe a partnership with the national parks system, or a nearby school. Not only will your team feel good about giving back, they’ll also have an opportunity to work with a client they normally wouldn’t, and, that client will probably be extra appreciative
  • Invest inside – Offer classes, stipends for classes and bring in interesting lecturers. By making courses or conferences easy for your employees to attend they’ll feel that you care about their general growth and they’ll bring some increased knowledge back to the office environment.
  • Make wellness a priority – Work is tough, and one way to show your employees that you care about them is to show that you care about their health, too. Consider taking half-days to let people work on personal projects (ya’ll know that’s how gmail was created.. right?). Set up group yoga classes! Encourage lunch-break workouts! Basically give space for your employees to stretch their brains (and muscles).
  • Brainstorm – Have a jam with your current employees to discover what they want to work on, and ideas they have for the entire company. It can be a fantastic moment to take a pulse on your workforce and hear what your employees really want. You may get a new business idea or a whole new offering!

These are just a few things that you can try to build purpose. The biggest changes you can make are at the fundamental level. Think about speaking with your employees and find out ways that they think your company could build more purpose. Realize that when you encourage purpose, more clients will want you and people will want to work for you. It’s an amazing feeling to work somewhere that feels like it’s making a difference!



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