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Embedding a Purpose Driven Culture

Posted by Carol Whitworth on August 24, 2020

Welcome to our third article in our Internal Communications series with Carol Whitworth, Founder of the UK’s #1 Internal Communications firm, Home. Last month, Lauren Rowe, Employee Experience Strategist at Home provided some insight on designing an employee experience that’ll keep teams engaged, especially during these testing times. This month, Home Strategist Liz Clover walks us through the nine key things to do when embedding a purpose driven culture.

Home recently launched Roundel 2020, a piece of research created to understand the employee experience, trends, practices and priority areas around the world. Respondents’ were asked what their top three employee experience initiatives were in 2020. As this is a topic that hits very close to Home (please excuse the pun), Liz created the following piece as their second Roundel 2020 blog.

32% said embedding a purpose driven culture

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. Organizations are realizing 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!

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 energizing, 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 people and the planet. What hole would be left if your organization 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 organizations (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

  • Co-create your purpose with your senior leadership team, or even better with your entire workforce.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Provide experiences that enable your people to discover their individual purpose/s and encourage them to think about how this dovetails with your organizational one.
  • Make sure your senior leaders understand 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.
  • Use storytelling to provide regular and authentic proof points of your purpose in action.
  • Quarterly toolkits are a great way to set team challenges linked to delivering purpose.  Ask employees to capture and share any results – embedding your purpose right across your organization from the bottom up.
  • Review your hire to retire employee journey through a purpose lens.
  • Create experiences that allow your people and stakeholders to innovate around your purpose.

If you have questions about embedding a purpose driven culture, especially during this global pandemic, comment below or reach out to our friends at Home.

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