By Rachel Adrian
Disengaged employees. Every company has them and for a long time, we’ve been lost in terms of motivating them. What if we could infuse purpose and meaning into an individual’s job description?Imagine yourself volunteering for a charity of your choice, and helping them to achieve their goals. Let’s pretend it’s an animal shelter, you love animals and soon you realize that while the work is hard, you are genuinely enjoying it. The moment that you see a puppy go home with their new family, you know that all of your effort was worth it. This type of work has a strong, defined purpose, and it motivates you to work harder, better and more efficiently. Wouldn't it be great if people could get this same sense of fulfillment from their jobs?Employees become disengaged because they feel that they aren’t making a difference. They return to the same job everyday, to do the same mundane tasks, and they rarely get to see the true impacts of their work. In this blog, I would like to propose that your company could become much more successful if you allow employees to look at the bigger picture, and feel the same passion that the founder of the company felt when starting the company. Every company has a purpose (even if they haven’t defined it) but very few have communicated this purpose to their employees. People will feel much more motivated to perform if they understand your purpose in the greater community. Job PurposingJob purposing is a new movement that has taken roots in the United States. Employers are starting to infuse a field related purpose into their everyday tasks. This purpose becomes part of the mission, vision and goals for the company, and it is intrinsically infused into every employee’s job description and daily tasks.No matter what you do, there is a purpose behind your job – if there wasn’t, they wouldn’t be paying you to do it. So why not make this purpose clearer to employees, and allow them to go further than just working their 9-5, by contributing to the greater purpose of the company?Job purposing can reinvigorate employees and allow for better cohesion among the team. We see job purposing as an alternative to standard employee engagement techniques, which have been found to be much less effective than originally imagined. Many companies hold ‘employee volunteering day’ events, which were intended to engage employees, encourage teamwork and help the community at the same time. They sound great in theory, but we have found that many employees feel that these events can be a waste of time.
Employees can’t effectively contribute to your purpose if you fail to communicate what it is! A strong sense of purpose is attractive to both potential employees and customers. Check out this Fast Company article that highlights the importance of sharing a purpose with your employees.
Determining ‘WHY?’As I’ve mentioned, every company has a purpose, but it often gets muddled and lost over time. Articulating this purpose and getting everyone on board with it can be a complicated task, so I came up with a few starting points:
Why was the business started?
To find your purpose, you have to start at the beginning. Most businesses are originally started because the founder saw a gap in what already existed in the market. What gap does your business fill?
Who are your key stakeholders?
When you go to work every morning, who are you doing it for? Who do you serve, and what do they care about?
What does your company already do well?
Build on past successes and leverage internal skills. This will allow you to make the biggest and most powerful impact in the communities you work in.
Answering these questions will force you to look at the true motivating force behind your company.If you think that your businesses’ purpose is to make money, think again. No one buys stuff from you because you want to make a profit. They pay for your products/services because it will help them to lead a better life, find out how you are helping people to do this and you have found your purpose!Note: It's important for any non-profits reading this to remember that for you, your purpose is even more important to highlight than for a traditional for-profit company. Read this case study about how we helped a Calgary non-profit to uncover the 'WHY' behind their everyday work!A few months ago, Britain announced the “Three Days” initiative, which will require companies to pay all employees for 3 days worth of volunteer time. This is a good start that will highlight the importance of work place supported volunteering, but we envision this type of engagement becoming fully integrated into a company’s core and every employee's job description. A Changing WorldMany years ago, businesses displayed their values and purpose for all to see. Back then, businesses and their employees were value driven and aware of how their purpose fit into the greater scheme. Somewhere along the way, business changed, and people can see that for many businesses, the only true motivation is profits.A company that hasn’t defined their purpose is missing out on a huge opportunity. People (especially millenials!) overwhelmingly want businesses to contribute to the greater societal good and this is starting to influence decisions about how they spend their money. If your business is doing good already, why not highlight it for your customers and employees?Bea Boccalandro recently released a fantastic 10 article series about job purposing and its’ role in the workplace. Check it out to learn more about how you can implement job purposing in your company!