Crystal ball in a building

Purpose and values: why they need to be crystal clear

With The Great Resignation in full swing, being an attractive employer matters. And that means far more than offering decent pay.

The pandemic was a catalyst for people to reassess exactly what’s important to them and the reason they get out of bed in the morning. So your organisation’s purpose matters. Your organisation’s values matter. And when they align with your employees, you’re onto a winner.

Post-pandemic soul searching

The pandemic has prompted people to reassess what matters to them – and that includes the workplace. McKinsey, for example, when surveying US-based employees found that Covid caused two-thirds to reflect on their purpose in life and that nearly half were reconsidering their work. Millennials topped the charts, being three times more likely than others to say they were re-evaluating their work.

In a recent McKinsey survey, 63 per cent of people said they want their employer to provide more opportunities for purpose in their day-to-day work

The call for greater purpose

Purpose is high up the list for people looking to move to a new organisation, with employees wanting “a renewed and revised sense of purpose in their work”. With individuals asking themselves what impact they want to have in the world, employers must ask themselves similar questions. According to Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte:

An organization’s culture of purpose answers the critical questions of who it is and why it exists. They have a culture of purpose beyond making a profit.

Punit Renjen

CEO of Deloitte

So having a clear purpose – and the values that underpin that purpose – is one way to help retain employees in 2022. Why? Because employees who get the purpose they want from work report better outcomes both at work and in life, including higher levels of health, resilience, engagement and achievement.

Today I choose joy

Putting purpose in the everyday

In the past, many companies have run social responsibility projects. Reading with children at local schools or mentoring for nearby homelessness charities are great initiatives, giving employees a chance to tap into their personal purpose and values.

But those kinds of projects don’t integrate values and purpose into day-to-day work, and that’s what’s important to employees right now. In a recent McKinsey survey, 63 per cent of people said they want their employer to provide more opportunities for purpose in their day-to-day work. Do this, and you’ll be helping your employees to find more personal meaning every day – resulting in greater fulfilment and making them more likely to stick around.

The WOW! Awards is one way of demonstrating how your values are experienced both by customers and employees. Map the awards to your own brand values and you’ll uncover how they translate to real-life scenarios. This is a powerful way to celebrate successes and encourage those values to spread. As Morrison Water Services puts it:

It enables us to further embed our customer values by recognising excellence when it happens and feeding this back to our frontline staff.

Morrison Water Services

What do your values actually mean?

Values are how you will achieve your purpose. And it’s all well and good having them plastered over the walls of a meeting room. But unless your organisation lives and breathes them, it’s unlikely they’ll make the slightest difference to the culture of your organisation or to the service your customers receive.

Teams need to know how an organisation’s values translate into what they do and what they say. Taking it right to basics, ask a five-year-old to be kind, and you’ll get a blank stare. Ask them to share their toys with a friend, they’ll get it. Giving specific, everyday examples of what values look like is key.

A programme like The WOW! Awards unearths just this kind of real-life scenario and encourages employees to repeat them. Take, for example, this heartfelt nomination for Jason Fredrick at Peabody, which shows with real gratitude how he helped a customer while demonstrating one of the organisation’s values.


The power of collective purpose

And finally, having a clear collective purpose is a powerful deal. Harvard Business Review found that companies with a clearly articulated purpose had better growth than companies that didn’t. In their survey, 89% of respondents said ‘a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction’ and 84% said it can ‘affect an organisation’s ability to transform’.

Creating a shared, purpose-driven culture will help employees to be more engaged and mitigate losses from ‘The Great Resignation’, according to Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks:

When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.

Howard Shultz

CEO of Starbucks

Empower and bring purpose with The WOW! Awards

We are The WOW! Awards. We provide recognition programmes with a difference. Programmes designed to uncover personal, individual stories of outstanding service. Recognition that engages your people and helps them have a sense of purpose in their day to day work.