How important is purpose at your workplace?

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7 min read

"Purpose" is a word full with potential and meaning. It's fair to say that every single person has a different definition of it but also has their own unique purpose in life and in everything they are doing. But one thing is universal: purpose and motivation are tied closely together which is why a company needs to give their employees purpose so they can give their best.  

Content: 

  1. What is a purpose?
  2. Purpose vs. Goals 
  3. What are the benefits of a purpose-driven corporate culture?

What is a Purpose?

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In general, purpose is the description of the reason why someone is doing something. You clean the dishes for the purpose of having clean dishes. But besides the very obvious definition, purpose also can have a bigger meaning that is not just about the reason why you're doing one specific task but what your general purpose is - in life, in your art, at your job.  

And that's where the concept becomes incredibly important for any company and organization because it's been proven that people who have a purpose are more motivated and effective at their job. But even more important is to acknowledge that different people need different purposes.  

Of course, everyone individually has different reasons for doing something. But there is often common ground in a wide variety of goals:  

  • To be satisfied with what one does  
  • Recognition for what you do  
  • Helping and supporting other people  
  • To leave an impression, to be needed  
  • To develop oneself further and grow with one's own tasks  

If a company manages to include a purpose that has space for different motivations in their company vision and mission, it will be much easier for employees, partners, and even customers to identify with the customer and commit to it.  

For example, at DIGITALL, we aim to help our customers transform their business with our technological, strategic and industry expertise. Our employees can therefore find purpose in the helping, the developing of innovative solutions, or in the experience they gain from many different projects. Our values give additional purpose through a focus on teamwork, trust, responsibility, and diversity.  

Purpose vs. Goals

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One interesting distinction can be made between purpose and goals (or KPIs, to stay within the business context). Whereas a goal can be the achievement of a specific number (revenue, speed, quantity of service tickets solved, etc.), the purpose would need to explain further why this goal needs to be achieved (to grow as a company, to have more time for other things, to make service customers happy).  

Gif: Goal: Increase Net Promoter Score; Purpose: Creating trusting relationships visualized with a graphic icon for Goals and a heart icon for Purpose.

As such, it always helps to attach purpose to specific goals, especially when it's not just one task but a project, or a task that has to be done over and over again. That way, people know why something needs to be done, which will also help with more creative problem solutions and optimizations.  

An example:  

If you tell someone to make a report on your current KPI, they will make the report.  

If you tell them to make the report to show management your successes but also challenges to develop solutions, they can focus on the highlights and low points and structure the report in a way that speaks to the management.  

What are the benefits of a purpose-driven corporate culture?

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According to a forecast by EY (PDF), companies with a concrete purpose lived out in their corporate culture perform 42% better than other companies. According to EY, companies that have a clear purpose and align their strategy accordingly have clear advantages:  

Employees are more engaged and satisfied with their employment 

Twice as many managers not only work, but see their work as meaningful and feel more motivated as a result (by 60%, to be exact). Employees are also 14% more likely to stay loyal to the company if they see a purpose in their work.    

Company culture is stronger when the company has clearly articulated its purpose

Employees are more optimistic, creative and bold in their plans and strategies. In addition, a rarely discussed but important phenomenon is greater "psychological safety." In short, employees suffer less work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. 

Actions, decisions and strategies can be planned and executed more agilely 

When your employees know exactly what the purpose of the overall business strategy is, they can much more easily assess which actions will have a positive, negative or no further impact on their business. This makes decision making and goal alignment easier.  

Customers and employees are more loyal and have more trust in the company

Loyalty and trust are among the foundations of a successful company, whether on the part of employees or customers. Especially in crisis situations, a company that has a clear purpose is much more likely to benefit from the trust of all stakeholders.    

A purpose can, under certain circumstances, also be linked to a vision and is thus also stable in the long term

A company that follows a vision can adapt more quickly to market changes and can better assess how new technologies or societal changes can be incorporated into the business model.      

More effective training and education

Training, education and development can be planned and deployed in a much more targeted manner if the company is aware of what employees need to bring to the table in order to positively impact the company's purpose. This also allows training, mentoring programs and education to be communicated in a more meaningful way to employees and to be accepted more enthusiastically. 

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by Sabine Kirchem

Sabine Kirchem is Vice President Marketing as well as a book author. She is enthused by innovation topics, current trends and technologies in the areas of digitalization, marketing and communications.

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