It’s true – we all need to work, but employees are looking for more than a paycheck. Employees are looking for meaning and purpose in both their personal and professional lives and if you want them to be inspired, engaged and committed to your organization and the work they do, you need to help them connect with the purpose of your organization.

Don’t leave it to your employees to stumble around in the dark hoping they will be inspired by your company’s mission, vision and values because of your marketing campaigns and fancy wall posters. As a leader, you’re there to: 1). Help employees see how they make a difference – not only to the organization’s bottom line but in the lives of customers and other stakeholders, 2). Provide them the tools and resources needed to excel and 3). Get out of the way so they can do their jobs. By helping employees find purpose, they become emotionally invested in serving others which creates inspiration and engagement.

Why is this so important? According to an article in Harvard Business Review (HBR), productivity among satisfied employees is 100%, while engaged employees hit 144%, and inspired employees deliver 225% productivity. Employees are inspired when they find meaning in their organization’s purpose.

If you want to unleash the passion, potential and performance of your employees, help them find meaning and purpose in both their work and lives.

In “A Brand Is Just A Brand – Unless It Has A Purpose,” Julie Barrier, vice president, purpose-driven marketing at SAP, shared a story about a custodian at a medical clinic, someone who isn’t directly involved in patient care, but described her job as, “I save lives.” This is a perfect example of how any employee can feel emotionally connected to the organization’s purpose by understanding how they personally contribute to it through their daily jobs – regardless of their role.

6 ways to help employees find purpose

Here are 6 ways to help you connect your employees’ everyday work to your company’s purpose:

  1. Identify the company’s purpose. No, profit is NOT a purpose. Your purpose is why you got into the business to begin with. How does your product of service serve others and change the world for the better? Really think through WHY your organization does what it does.
  2. Live the company’s purpose.  It is critical that you’re authentic about the organization’s purpose, especially when it comes to millennial employees, because if you aren’t genuinely bought into it, your employees will sense that and won’t be either. 
  3. Demonstrate your organization’s purpose through your Organizational Culture (OC). When your OC embraces your organization’s purpose and you’re authentic about it, you become an advocate for it. Often employees perceive purpose as just another marketing slogan. Use the power of your organizational culture (OC) through customer references, CSR projects, and other proof-points to demonstrate you not only believe it – but you also LIVE it.
  4. Look for ties between everyday work and your company’s purpose on an individual level. Employees often don’t see a meaningful connection between their role and the company’s purpose. As a leader, look for opportunities to bring that to life for them. For example, a hospital’s purpose might be something like “We save lives.” Although this sounds powerful, a finance employee might struggle to see the link between their job and saving lives. This is where your leadership is required. A finance professional in a hospital might handle payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable, billing, taxes and other financial demands so healthcare providers can focus on saving the lives of patients. The actions of the finance team in keeping accurate records, sending timely invoices, following up on past due accounts and structuring debt and cash flow help ensure the hospital can run efficiently & effectively make saving lives possible, and they need to personally connect to that. The same holds true for every other function in the hospital.
  5. Talk about purpose. Reinforce the connection between employees’ roles and the organization’s purpose by actively communicating how your employees make a difference in the lives of those they serve.
  6. Repeat early & often. Helping employees connect to your OC and purpose is not a one-time task. Rather, it’s a long-term commitment that will pay huge dividends. You don’t necessarily need to talk about purpose in every meeting. Look for ways to schedule recurring OC & purpose talks based on roles and stakeholder feedback. For example, back to our hospital example: You likely won’t need to remind surgeons they are saving lives every day, but a finance professional might need a reminder of how their role contribute to those who do.


Are you providing employees more than a paycheck?