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Employees Seek Purpose-Driven Work

In the midst of a national worker shortage, employees are increasingly prioritizing purpose at work, and companies are seeking to become more purpose driven, according to Fortune.

Employees seek purpose in work: Research consistently indicates that employees across all age groups and demographics desire jobs that they believe are meaningful. A McKinsey survey found that 89% of employees want a sense of purpose at work.

Business Roundtable pledge: In 2019, a group of major American CEOs called the Business Roundtable committed to a multistakeholder view of business that goes beyond a profit-only focus and emphasizes delivering for different stakeholders, including employees and communities.

Many companies continue old practices during pandemic: Despite claiming to be purpose and value driven, many companies seemed to prioritize profits over people during the pandemic. The Washington Post reported in late 2020 that many of the 50 largest U.S. companies earned profits during the pandemic, even as most of them laid off employees.

Purpose-driven companies thrive: Etsy has made a company commitment to diversity, environmental responsibility and empowering people. Gotham Greens has developed a business model focused on sustainable agriculture and supporting local communities. Employees from these purpose-driven firms were more likely to find meaning in their work, take pride in their job and feel a sense of community at work. These companies were more likely than their peers to retain top talent and successfully recruit employees.

Steps to becoming purpose driven: Some ways companies can become purpose driven include making purpose personal for employees, framing purpose statements and values around relevant history or context and installing purpose as a guiding principle at all levels of a company.

Why it matters: The pandemic-related “Great Resignation” can be partially attributed to employees searching for more purpose in their work. With the U.S. currently facing a major work shortage, companies becoming purpose driven could be an effective strategy to compete for workers.

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