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19 Feb 2024
by Andreea Dinu

How to embrace purpose and opportunity within your culture

Growth and development helps employees feel fulfilled, with a desire to stay at their company for longer

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To thrive, an organisation requires a strong sense of purpose and opportunity, and employees that find a meaningful purpose in their work are twice as satisfied with their jobs.

Plus, when employees feel that they have opportunities for growth and development, they are more likely to feel fulfilled, with a desire to stay at their company for longer. Here’s how to create a culture that inspires your employees by connecting them to a meaningful sense of purpose, while empowering them with opportunities to fulfil this purpose.

An organisational purpose must be inspirational, clearly articulated and linked to social good. No employee will feel motivated by a purpose that is bland and easily forgotten.

Stating your purpose

Take two different airlines as examples. The first - an Afghanistan airline - states that its mission is “to offer air travel and services that are safe, convenient and of optimum quality.” The second – a UK-based airline – states: “We want to empower everyone to take on the world. The customers we proudly fly and our people who go the extra mile.”

The latter purpose encapsulates how the airline is working to make air travel open to everyone while striving to be more sustainable for the planet. It’s clear which purpose is more inspirational, with the first example sounding more like an extract from a safety manual. In contrast, the second purpose is rousing, inviting everyone to work with the airline to achieve its goals of sustainable and inclusive air travel.

The purpose must also be seen and heard often and not just quoted occasionally. This way, employees start to live and breathe it every day. This means talking about the company’s purpose during recruitment and onboarding, in one-to-one meetings, team gatherings, newsletters and so on.

Organic adoption

Reinforcing the company’s reason for being is also important, enabling the company purpose to be organically adopted by employees rather than forced upon them.

Organisations who tie recognition efforts to the company’s purpose and values are making them a natural part of everyday working life.

This means understanding the values and associated behaviours the organisation wants employees to exhibit.

So, for example, with a purpose linked to being more sustainable and inclusive, the company’s values might include: “Ensuring we consider our environmental impact in everything we do, and creating a workplace where everyone belongs.”

The recognition programme can then be used to appreciate and reward employees who demonstrate sustainable thinking and actions, and exhibit behaviours linked to inclusivity, such as excellent teamwork and supporting and championing others. When employee recognition is tied to purpose, employees are continually reminded that they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves.

Give employees a voice

Giving employees a voice is also crucial for nurturing a culture of opportunity so that the company purpose is more easily realised. Employees will switch off if they feel ineffective and taken for granted, and so they must be empowered both in terms of their job and the company’s direction.

When employees believe their opinion is valued, they will feel more able to contribute to the company’s success. 

In addition, nurturing a sense of workplace community in which managers actively connect employees with leaders, co-workers and colleagues from other parts of the business opens-up greater career development opportunities.

So, for instance, managers might connect employees to mentors as well as to individuals in different departments who may appreciate support on special projects. On top of this, organisations need to ensure they provide employees with a wide variety of opportunities for learning new skills and growth, from training courses and volunteering opportunities to secondments.

An organisation will never flourish without a meaningful purpose that resonates with every employee and a workforce that enjoys a strong sense of opportunity.

To achieve this requires a carefully crafted culture – a culture that makes every employee feel inspired, empowered and deeply invested in the company’s success.

*Insights taken from O.C. Tanner’s Global Culture Report

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