Purpose, vision, and values: The trifecta of successful employee engagement
Employees are driven by meaningful work that is aligned to their values and purpose. By combining meaningful purpose with a clear vision and relatable values, organisations can capture the hearts and minds of employees.
Employees increasingly seek to work for organisations and employers that prioritise purpose, share a transparent vision for the future, align with their values, and offer meaningful work.
To understand changing attitudes to work, we conducted a global survey over 9,000 employees in organisations of all shapes and sectors. The majority of respondents (82 percent) said having a meaningful job is essential, but only six in ten said they were familiar with their organisation’s values, vision, and socio-environmental impact, demonstrating that even if organisations do have a strong purpose, employees aren’t always aware. A clear and well-communicated company vision and purpose, underpinned by compelling values, is fundamental to both retaining existing talent and attracting new employees.
Our research shows that employees are increasingly seeking roles that prioritise meaningful work. Of the employees we surveyed, 87 percent favour regular leadership communications about organisational purpose, and eight in ten (79 percent) say making a difference in their organisation motivates them. However, only 55 percent feel they have the freedom and autonomy to make a big impact for the organisation they work for.
Leaders can help employees feed into, connect with, and support the organisations purpose through open, multi-channel communication and creating a culture of empowerment and autonomy. Autonomy gives employees a sense of ownership and control over their work. When employees have the freedom to make decisions and take responsibility, they are more motivated and engaged. Empowered employees are often more productive, innovative, and creative. Giving employees autonomy can help organisations to gain a competitive edge in the market by enabling more agility, quicker adaptation to change, and cultivating a culture of continuous improvement. Creativity and innovation increase, all while showing trust and respect for employees, which not only attracts talent but also leads to higher job satisfaction while in a role. And, as our survey shows, 88 percent of employees want leaders to give them a voice in overcoming business challenges.
When people’s work serves a meaningful purpose, they are more likely to stay in a role and perform well. Likewise, someone searching for a job will be more likely to choose an organisation with a strong purpose that resonates deeply with them.
Our research shows that employees see communication from leaders as highly important, with 84 percent of respondents actively wanting leaders to update them on company vision. A company’s vision is its ultimate purpose and long-term goals, and is fundamental in gaining buy-in from all stakeholders – be they internal or external. A well-crafted vision statement serves as a North Star for organisations, helping to guide decisions, inspire people, and provide a sense of direction and purpose. An organisation’s vision is a critical element of strategic planning and can have a profound impact on success and sustainability.
Throughout our survey, we found that employees don’t always fully understand this long-term vision, or the impact it aims to achieve. Communication is key to any organisational vision. Leaders can utilise storytelling techniques and multi-channel communication strategies to bring employees on the journey and fully engage them in realising the organisational vision.
For example, we helped Ørsted to transform its culture and enable teams to move towards the organisation’s vision: a world that runs entirely on green energy. Alongside an IT overhaul, our digital, design, and agile experts coached Ørsted’s teams to develop data-driven services in an agile way. This new approach is helping the energy leader to reach its 2025 goal to produce 99 percent of its energy from green sources.
Of the 9,000 people surveyed, 83 percent said that it was important to be part of an organisation that shares their values. This could involve delivering meaningful work, learning and development, and a good work-life balance. Also important are corporate social responsibility factors like environment and social action, including supporting local communities.
We partnered with a healthcare organisation in the US to develop a comprehensive workforce development programme to support local refugees. The programme includes a language acquisition component to help people learn English while they work, upskilling hundreds of refugees, and filling workforce gaps in the healthcare system. It also provides essential digital literacy skills. Being able to access healthcare, education, and other essential services online further supports personal and community growth and wellness.
A set of clear, compelling values helps organisations to connect with current and future employees. By formalising an organisation’s principles, and guiding towards its North Star vision and purpose, employees will be more engaged and will demonstrate these values in their day-to-day work.
Despite a challenging economic climate, 75 percent cited work-life balance as being more important to them since the COVID-19 pandemic, versus 71 percent who cited pay. Employers need to be cognisant of these shifts and respond to changing values. This includes updating policies to enable more flexible, family-friendly working hours, and putting actionable programmes in place to increase inclusion and diversity.
The benefits of setting and communicating a clear purpose, vision, and values are proven. Happier, purpose-driven employees perform better and are more likely to feel connected to the organisation and want it to be successful in achieving its goals. By understanding and aligning with current and prospective employee priorities, employers can support attraction, retention, and reap the rewards of engaged, committed, purpose-driven teams.