Someone commented on LinkedIn that purpose at work is just a con – a way that profit hunger managers and owners can get their staff more engaged, simply so they can earn even more profit.
Owning a business called The Optimistic Cynic, I totally understand the point they’re trying to make here.
There will be companies that use ‘purpose’ simply as a method to engage staff or for their marketing messaging. The same way they have used the environmental message. So yes, people need to be aware of this.
There is a big BUT here.
I like to believe that most people (shareholders, directors and managers are people as well) genuinely want to do good. Historically business was never seen as a tool for doing that but this view is definitely changing. We now know that you can have a purpose and still make a profit. Normal business strategies can be tweaked to reduce harm or to do good, without any extra costs. Staff will definitely be more engaged if the organisation has a purpose other than making money.
The key issue is, like most things, how genuine it all is (I would have used the word authentic, but wow is that word over used or what?).
If a company purports to be purposeful but doesn’t follow through with it, people will know. Staff will obviously be the first to work it out and that change in perspective will filter through to customers. With the internet, people also find these things out for themselves and ultimately anything the find for themselves will greatly outweigh anything a company may try telling them, regardless of their marketing spend.
Will your staff leave the business if you don’t have a genuine purpose? Probably not, especially if they have a family to provide for. Will all your customers suddenly disappear to the competition? Again, probably not – unless the competition are purpose driven and offer the same value.
On the flip side, will your staff be more engaged, enjoy coming to work and share that passion with your customers if you are a purposeful organisation? – absolutely.
Retention and recruitment easier within purposeful organisations? – oh yes indeed.
If more organisations are becoming purposeful, is it likely that your customers and suppliers will be in that group? – it would be unusual if they’re not.
Yes some companies will ‘purpose-wash’ but that shouldn’t stop you going down this path. It’s better for your staff, your customers, your communities and you!
Have a genuine purpose is easy and is simply the right thing to do.