· Eve Church  · 6 min read

Does Your Company Have a Culture of Purpose?

What is a workplace culture of purpose? And even if you already have an awesome company culture, is a sense of purpose part of that?

We’re willing to bet that there’s a fairly high probability that a good percentage of your employees are made up by millennials. And if that’s the case, it pays to look at what this demographic wants - expects even - from their employer.

Well yes, a salary that recognizes their worth, recognition for a job well done, and a flexible working model are all on the list of things millennials want at work. But one aspect you might be missing is purpose. People between the ages of 27 to 42 (at the time of writing) want a sense of purpose at work.

If you (or the powers that be within your organization) aren’t really onboard with the whole ‘company culture thing’ we suggest you take another look. Your company culture could be a lot more important than you think.

But what is a workplace culture of purpose? And even if you already have an awesome company culture, is a sense of purpose part of that?

Let’s take a closer look.

Why do millennials want a culture of purpose at work?  

Purpose is what a company stands for and believes in. It’s an organization’s ethics and its desire to give back. So why do millennials in particular view this as such an important factor in deciding who to work for?

We can thank technology - primarily the internet - for that. Millennials have grown up using tech and are, generally speaking, more connected to the world at large than the generations before them.

They have always had the ability to find information quickly and this connectivity has also provided greater transparency into the issues that face us and the planet.

And it is this greater exposure to problems and inequality that has created a desire to find a better way of doing things, for a way to be fairer, to solve issues, and do better in terms of  more diversity and inclusivity.

Millennials want to make the world a better place and they strive towards this. But what does that really have to do with your workplace?

The answer is a two-parter:

1. Millennials, by default, have a greater sense of purpose and this extends to the time they spend at work and

2. For many, working for a company with little to no ethics, compassion or involvement in good causes, is a no-no.

Let’s break that down a little:

  • Millennials having a default sense of purpose can also apply to themselves. They want to achieve - and to be seen to be an achiever. We have social media to thank for that one! They want their current job to be a stepping stone towards greater things.
  • But they also want to give back. To contribute. They understand that there’s something bigger out there than just them and their role in your organization.

Therefore, if you want to offer a greater sense of purpose as one facet of your company culture, you need to address both meanings of purpose, as millennials see it.

Why should your company create a culture of purpose?

Okay, that leads us to this question. Why should you bother trying to weave a sense of purpose into your existing company culture? Is it really worth the time and effort?

We think it is. Consider the following.

A culture of purpose will:

  • Help your company attract forward thinking individuals. Millennials, yes, but other applicants who also appreciate an organization with purpose
  • It will create greater engagement with the employees you already have working for you
  • It not only says to candidates that you’re a great place to work. When you value diversity, and you give back to the community - on a local or global scale  - it tells clients and customers that you’re someone they should do business with

How can you create a culture of purpose?

If you look at the reasons behind why millennials want to work in a company that has a creative and purposeful culture, as covered above, you can then start to take steps towards your goal.

Encourage your employees to thrive

For example, we mentioned that millennials want a sense of purpose with regards to their role in the company. They want to grow and they want to go on to bigger and better things.

And this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to use you as a springboard. If your organization is fulfilling that sense of purpose they so desperately crave, chances are they’ll stick around and grow with you.

Therefore you need to:

  • Offer opportunities for growth and career development
  • Provide training and education
  • Encourage managers to hire internally where possible
  • Provide outlets for two-way feedback
  • Conduct stay interviews so you can address an employee’s needs

Instill purpose within teams

But many millennials aren’t just out for the solo win. They also like to have a purpose within their team.

Now the definition of a team can be very loose here. And it will also depend on the size of your company. For example, team purpose could be established within a small team, within a larger department, at one location, or even within the company as a whole.

How managers can do that is by:

  • Ensuring the ‘team’ - however it’s defined - is working towards the same end goal
  • Providing direction so the team can successfully work together
  • Sharing insight into why goals or deadlines have been set
  • Explaining the role each employee has to play in the team and the organization
  • Holding semi-regular team building exercises (or even just lunches or happy hours) to grow camaraderie

Create a purpose for the greater good

As we touched upon earlier, millennials like to align themselves and their morals or ethics with the company they choose to work for.

Contribution is everything, whether it’s at a local, national or global level. Again, this goes back to that connectedness that millennials have experienced since they were old enough to log on and travel the world via their computers.

So how can your organization achieve a sense of purpose in line with millennial desires?

  • Consider offering a VTO (Volunteer Time Off) scheme
  • Pledge a percentage of your profits to charity
  • Think about working towards becoming a B Corp Certified company
  • Run a points-based recognition system for employees or teams that allow employees to donate points accrued to a charity or organization of their choice

Does your company have a culture of purpose? Conclusion 

Creating a culture of purpose will not only attract a better caliber of millennial candidate but it will help you retain your employees too.

This impacts your business directly, and so too does offering your people the opportunity for growth and internal success. You’ll foster greater employee engagement and reap the benefits of having driven people who want to learn and be successful on your payroll.

When you take a step back and look at what millennials want in the workplace, it’s hard to deny that it’s also an opportunity for your business to stand out from the competition by proving that a) you’re a great place to work, b) a great company to do business with, and c) you give back and care about more than just profit.

It’s a win-win for both the millennial employee and your brand and business.

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