The field of employee experience is taking off. I’ve never had more conversations with CEOs and board members as I have over the past 12 months. Organisations are realising they need to do things differently and are trying to figure out how – positive psychology, co-creation, giving people a voice, collaborative innovation – it’s such an exciting time!

So, we decided to launch Roundel 2020, a piece of research to understand the employee experience trends, practices and priority areas around the world. One of the questions we asked respondents was what their top three employee experience initiatives are in 2020?

32% said embedding a purpose driven culture

As this is a topic that’s very close to our hearts, we thought it was perfect for our second Roundel 2020 blog.


It’s not exactly a new idea

Purpose driven cultures aren’t exactly a new thing. A quick Google search will bring up case studies from the likes of Patagonia and Method – but purpose is becoming more and more important both internally and externally.

People want to thrive, not just survive. And for that, they need purpose and meaning, cornerstones of positive work experiences and good mental health. Think of the old phrase ‘find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’. It’s true! When we’re motivated by purpose, our brains light up. Work becomes energising, no longer a chore. It’s important stuff.


Where to start

You probably already have a purpose statement, or mission statement, or something similar. Ask yourself “Are you living it? Is it genuinely the decision-making filter and anchor you want it to be?” If the answer’s no, there’s work to be done.

Your purpose explains why your company exists – showing the good you do in the world. It’s about looking beyond profit to see how your existence benefits your people and the planet. What hole would be left if your organisation disappeared?

When it’s done well it becomes the heartbeat of a business. It’s motivational and connects both hearts and minds. It’s simple really. Understanding the ‘why’ behind the things you do makes your actions more meaningful and purposeful – whether you’re an employee, customer or stakeholder. As customers, we buy from companies whose purpose aligns with our own. We buy from people who care about the things we care about.


Why bother?

Having a clear purpose unites people behind something bigger than themselves. Alignment with purpose brings:

  • Greater employee loyalty – employees who care deeply about the impact they have on their customers, or the world around them, are more loyal.
  • Increased motivation and productivity – it’s no secret that caring, engaged employees are more productive.
  • Advocacy – employees, customers and stakeholders are all much more likely to talk up the things they believe in, whether face-to-face or through social channels.

‘‘Ah!” we hear you say. “We’re not a healthcare company or a charity, so we can’t build a purpose-driven culture”.

Of course you can! Some of the world’s leading organisations (banking, manufacturing, and technology) unite their people – and their customers – behind the good they do in the world. We know it’s not always a simple job, but it’s still a job that can be done.


How to embed a purpose driven culture

  1. Co-create your purpose with your senior leadership team, or even better with your entire workforce.
  2. Write a rousing manifesto bringing your purpose to life in a way that resonates – use it to explain the big picture story about how your purpose links to your culture and strategic goals, and what everyone’s role is to deliver it.
  3. Launch your purpose in a way that grabs hearts and minds and then use it as a golden thread across all your internal communication and employee engagement activity.
  4. Provide experiences that enable your people to discover their individual purpose/s and encourage them to think about how this dovetails with your organisational one.
  5. Make sure your senior leaders understand that your purpose is a lever for success, give them ideas about how they can embed it into key internal and external communication opportunities and team sessions – you want your whole supply chain to support your purpose.
  6. Use storytelling to provide regular and authentic proof points of your purpose in action.
  7. Use quarterly toolkits to set team challenges linked to delivering purpose.  Ask employees to capture and share any results – embedding your purpose right across your organisation.
  8. Review your hire to retire employee journey through a purpose lens.
  9. Create experiences that allow your people and stakeholders to innovate around your purpose.