If you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to the full version of our Wellbeing Works webinar then I’d recommend it. But if you’re short on time, then the snippet on purpose is the must-listen. Of all the interesting things that we discussed, this was the biggest lesson for me and it’s something I want to expand on here.
Why does purpose matter?
So why does it matter in business? How does this pay the bills, generate growth?
Well, as Tim said, at Unilever they believe that people with purpose thrive and companies with purpose last. There’s a lot of data to support this, but we almost don’t need that to know that this is true. We all have examples of situations in our own lives – when we are purposeful about something, when we believe in why we’re doing something, we tend to succeed. We tend to persevere, pick ourselves up from knock-backs and come up with creative ways to achieve the aim.
It’s not enough simply to know the purpose of something – knowing but not believing in it can just lead to feelings of resentment or guilt.
Unilever believe in this so strongly, that they have run 1 day workshops with over 50,000 of their people, called Discovering your purpose. I said we almost don’t need the data, but I want to share these stats – in a randomised control trial done with the LSE, they have found that people who participated in the workshops reported:
- 49% higher intrinsic motivation;
- 33% higher job satisfaction;
- 27% higher life satisfaction.
Take that in. If you could tap into that in your business, what impact could that have?
The words have to match the music
It’s relatively simple to come up with a purpose for your business. The harder part is making sure that everything lines up behind it. There’s a theme here – you may have read my previous blog on values, where this consistency point is also made. If you have a purpose statement but the behaviours, values, actions of the business and its people don’t support it, then it will ring hollow and be meaningless.
Once you embrace that purpose, it’s a brilliant tool, just like the values – you can use it as a standard to uphold, a measure against which both strategic and tactical activity can be assessed. If you’re doing something and you know it clashes with the purpose, then have the conversation about it. Use it as a development activity.
Purpose is personal
My professional purpose is to help businesses with social purpose be great places to work where their people can thrive, not just survive. I can fulfil this by working at BetterSpace (and also through my NED work at Orbit Group). It’s what gets me out of bed each morning and motivates my efforts. It means I love what I do, even with the challenges and frustrations inherent in any job.
What’s your purpose and how does it motivate you? Do you know the purpose of the people who work for and with you? If not, it’s worth finding out.