07 September 2021

Why Meaning and Purpose at Work?

The sense of purpose is a core differentiator in terms of creating a better employee experience, which in turn is linked to higher levels of employee engagement, stronger business results and increased feeling of well-being. Companies who want to help their people explore meaning in their work need to define a broad, human-centered and aspirational purpose addressing the core reason for an organisation’s existence within the wider world. When you tither your core business strategy to an authentic and shared purpose, you can create and sustain a healthy workplace culture where corporate and personal values can be perfectly aligned.

A survey conducted by Betterup concludes that employees who feel strong alignment with company leadership on the importance of meaningful work score 46% higher on job satisfaction than employees who feel misaligned with leadership on this issue. 

Diffusing a strong sense of purpose at every level of organisation and discovering the spot where personal and corporate purpose overlaps help organisations create a situation where employees derive meaning from their work. The outcome is a win-win situation with higher levels of engagement and satisfaction, which will become your competitive edge to attract and retain top talent in today’s disruptive business landscape. 

Facing the purpose gap

The disconnection between employees’ desire for meaning at work versus what they experience reflects a purpose gap, finds a study conducted by McKinsey. In an EY survey, ninety-eight percent of CEOs surveyed agreed with the statement that “our purpose is central to our organization and is well understood by all.” But this confidence progressively weakened at each lower level of management, falling to 50 percent among lower- and middle-level employees. Considering the purpose gap between leadership and employees, it is crucial for leaders to meet employees where they are in order to help them optimise their sense of meaning and fulfilment from work. 

How to create a purpose driven organisation 

While every company is different and will need to find its own path to purpose, a considerable amount of research identifies some common distinct actions that companies can take in order to build a purpose movement throughout their organisation and connect their people to their purpose.

  • Define, communicate and integrate 

A well-defined purpose should be ambitious and inspiring, yet still grounded in your realities. After ensuring the authenticity of your purpose, you should communicate it to your people. These communications must happen again and again as a series of overlapping dialogues. The next step is to have a clear approach to integrate purpose into core business strategy. Take CVS Health. When the U.S-based drugstore chain realised that tobacco did not align with its purpose which is to help people on their path to better health, it stopped selling tobacco at its stores, and also initiated various programs to help smokers quit. Following this strategic decision, while it lost $2 billion in annual cigarette sales in the first year of its new policy, its pharmacy sales jumped. And this brave step helped the company to rebrand itself from CVS Pharmacy to CVS Health. 

  • Involve the employee in the purpose journey 

Leaders should offer opportunities that will empower employees to identify what is most meaningful to them and how corporate purpose connects with their day-to-day tasks. Unilever sets a good example with its “Discover your Purpose” workshops designed to offer people a concrete step to discover their personal purpose. The company observed that when corporate and personal purposes are connected, its people feel more engaged and positive about their work, well-being and development. Another effective way of empowering employees to act on the firm’s purpose is to do this through stories – the real-world examples which demonstrate that purpose is something lived, not just lectured. As author and storytelling expert David Pearl puts it: “Plans inform people; stories inspire people.”

  • Embed employee wellbeing into your organisational purpose

A research conducted by McKinsey to understand how to ignite purpose during the pandemic finds that people who say they are “living their purpose” at work report levels of well-being that are five times higher than those who say they aren’t. Well-being was rising on the organizational agenda even before the COVID-19 pandemic; however, increased levels of stress and the slippery slope of burnout and boreout have highlighted the importance interweaving mental health and well-being goals with the fabric of the corporate purpose itself. 

Trying to navigate through a pandemic-stricken world, companies and employees are recognising the value of living lives that nurture a sense of well-being and purpose more than ever. And this is the core of Wellbees; we are dedicated to create a world where everyone reaches his or her potential while showing care to each other. This is where Wellbees employees find meaning and value; this is where we define, re-define and live out our purpose. We believe that employees who feel well, healthy and cared can unleash their true potential and engage with their work better. To make our purpose true, we do our best to take employees on a unique wellbeing journey. We strive to achieve that with the power of behaviour change, and therefore we have been collaborating with opinion leaders around the world on behavioral change since 2013. Leaving unwanted habit loops behind and stepping into new and healthier habits define our core business strategy. We use the power of a customised social platform, proactive employee support program and gamification with entertaining challenges and motivators to help your employees build new habits and thrive at work and in all aspect of life.

A study conducted among more than 1,400 companies in September 2020 by Bersin Academy to offer a definitive guide on employee experience shows while prioritizing health and wellbeing was the core response to the pandemic, the most successful companies also rapidly transformed their businesses around a unifying purpose and reinvented their people practices. Purpose-driven companies achieve higher employee satisfaction and engagement and create a healthier workplace culture. It is possible to close ‘the purpose gap’ and become a part of purpose movement if you truly commit yourself to identify and embrace the best strategies meeting your companies’ specific needs. That being said, much of the research about corporate purpose concludes that defining and communicating your purpose is the very first step, followed by its integration into your business strategy. Next step begins with employees’ embodying the beliefs, behaviours and values that exemplify organizational purpose, and the role of leaders and coaches are critical to guide employees in building a personal connection to organizational purpose. Last but not least, a holistic wellbeing strategy is vital to make your company a rewarding place to work. Caring for your employees is caring for your business. 








Burcu Ulucay

Read Next

See how Wellbees’ coaching, science and technology builds resilient people, leaders and companies.

Request a demo