Feeling a personal connection to an organization’s mission plays a large role on employee health and well-being. In a recent PwC survey, 83% of employees identified “finding meaning in day-to-day work” as a top priority. Successfully connecting employee values to an organization’s purpose may be the most important task of modern business leaders today, says Zach Mercurio, purposeful leadership and meaningful work researcher, strategist, and author.
Studies show, when employees feel their work contributes to the company’s overall mission, they are four times more likely to learn faster, be engaged, motivated, and more fulfilled.
DTE Energy experienced the effects of employees feeling disconnected to the organization’s purpose during the Great Recession of 2008, explains Harvard Business Review. In an effort to help employees feel their hard work was contributing to a higher purpose, President, Gary Anderson created a video to highlight the vital roles each employee has in providing energy to schools so children can learn, factory workers so our economy can thrive, and hospitals so doctors can keep people healthy.
DTE Energy company leaders began supporting the purpose in onboarding, training programs, corporate meetings, and culture-building activities. These efforts lead to improved engagement scores, five Gallup Great Workplace Awards, and increased financial performance (from 2008 to 2017, DTE’s stock price more than tripled).
Connecting your people to the organization’s mission sounds like a complex task, but the good news is, it isn’t all on your shoulders. Employees play an active role in their sense of fulfillment in the workplace. An astounding 82% of employees agree that it is primarily their own responsibility, and 42% say that they are their own greatest barrier to finding fulfillment at work. You’re in this together– if you can share the vision, provide support, encourage participation, and set an example, your employees will recognize their efforts are contributing to a higher purpose.
Developing a sense of purpose and passion is a different journey for every employee. Dr. Mercurio suggests a few ways to connect employees with purpose:
- Regularly show employees how their work benefits others – Incorporate the mission into onboarding, discuss how new projects connect with company goals, and invite employees to share how their efforts have positively impacted others.
- Help employees connect their daily tasks to a bigger purpose – 61 percent of employees are not familiar with their company mission statement. Ensure your organization has a clear mission statement and discuss with your employees how they contribute to company objectives.
- Put more emphasis on contribution goals rather than achievement goals – Encourage employees to create goals that result in a contribution to others, whether they’re coworkers, clients, or the community.
The path to fulfillment is an ongoing cycle. Fulfillment is achieved when your efforts are in alignment with what motivates you and gives you a sense of purpose in life, according to a recent pwc study.
Three factors that contribute to a fulfilling work experience include:
- Relationships – Do you feel a sense of belonging and connection to coworkers?
- Impact – Are you making progress toward goals that matter to you?
- Growth – Are your projects challenging and do you have the resources to succeed?
Start by understanding your values and passions, says Forbes. Ask yourself what principles you operate by, what world problems you would like to see solved, and what qualities you admire most in others. Next, find intersections between your personal values and those of your organization. These will never align perfectly, but chances are, you’ll be able to find some meaningful connections.
Encouraging employees to find the connection between their values and those of the company should be an expectation. Feeling a purpose for their hard work will improve satisfaction in employee roles which can lead to better business performance overall.