Employees yearn for a ‘sense of purpose’: Survey

by John Hilton21 Oct 2016
The chairman and CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz was once quoted as saying: “When you're surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

Now, new research indicates that placing a high value on purpose is becoming increasingly popular.

In particular, Australian employees yearn for a sense of purpose at work and they desire to know how their contribution makes a difference, according to the recruiting firm Hays.

Indeed, the value in employee engagement of a competitive salary and perks has reduced and been replaced by a desire to work with purpose and make a difference, according to findings in the latest Hays Journal.

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand, said employee engagement was traditionally driven by a good salary and attractive benefits, but today most people see these as a given.

“Instead they look at what an organisation is working towards and known for,” he said.

“Crucially, they want to know that, as an employee, they will understand what they are working towards and how they make a difference, which gives them a greater sense of purpose.”

This shared sense of purpose was also identified as important to employee engagement in Hays’ report, Staff Engagement: Ideas for action.

It found that 94% of employees said a clear understanding of how their role helps the organisation achieve its objectives is a ‘very important’ or ‘important’ engagement factor for them.

Moreover, 26% said they would look for another job if they did not have this understanding, while 51% ‘might’ look elsewhere.

Sixty-five per cent would go above and beyond if they understood how their role helps the organisation achieve its objectives and a further 29% would ‘maybe’ do the same.

“Employees who understand what they are working towards feel a greater sense of purpose and that’s a powerful driver of engagement,” said Deligiannis.

“They feel they are making a difference and are working towards something that matters. They’re also far more likely to support the organisation’s objectives because they understand them.”

Deligiannis added that employees are given ownership in the organisation’s success since they know what is expected of them and what their part is in achieving the desired outcome.

“In contrast, organisations that don’t communicate employees’ role in achieving organisational goals create an atmosphere of uncertainty where senior managers and executives are seen to rule from above. A ‘them and us’ culture is created,” said Deligiannis.

Meanwhile, a study this year by researchers at Cornell University found that having a sense of purpose allows people to "navigate virtual feedback with more rigidity and persistence”.

The researchers also found that having a purpose keeps you emotionally steady which is essential for successful academic and work performance.

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

 

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