Every leader is looking at goals, targets and priorities set at the start of the year and realising they are either redundant or need to be significantly reset. Employees are asking themselves and their organisations: what now? As the unprecedented levels of change and ambiguity continue over the coming months, what is it that people need most from their leaders? There’s no silver bullet but one area that might be overlooked as an opportunity to keep people motivated and engaged is what we describe as “practical purpose”.
Understandably some leaders may be purpose weary. Purpose as greenwashing or meaningless statements on office walls (when we used to have offices) has, too often, been used as a quick-fix response to challenges with employee or stakeholder engagement.
However, purpose when it connects with people is an important source of meaning for employees. Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Report states that if an organisation can tap into the purpose and meaning for the workforce, it will act as a critical motivator and can help to sustain effort over time. Only last week, a survey of 17,000 workers by Slack found that the key difference between aligned and unaligned workers was their connection to an organisation’s strategic vision and purpose. At a time where employees will be overwhelmed with internal and external change, an organisation’s purpose could be one of the few constants to give individuals a sense of belonging, reassurance and meaning.