Why Have an Organizational Purpose?
Humans have always felt the need for a purpose. It helps define individual meaning and can be a motivating factor in both daily work and home life. According to a study by BlackRock, an American global investment management corporation based in New York City, employees are more engaged when they can define their individual purpose. To support that statement, The Conference Board’s “2018 Global Leadership Forecast” reported a 42% performance improvement between purpose-driven companies and the rest of the market. Further research done by Willis Towers Watson shows that when organizations have a clearly defined sense of purpose, they are more likely to have employees with strong individual purpose. When your organization has a purpose statement and employees with individual purpose, you have a workforce that is engaged and experiencing feelings of certainty, both of which are critical during a crisis like COVID-19.
Defining Your Purpose During COVID-19
As explained in a recent Harvard Business Review article, business as usual is impossible right now. However, organizations will greatly benefit if leaders work to transition the focus from panic to purpose. Listed below are suggested steps to take to help you define your purpose during COVID-19:
- Take a Meaningful Pause: For many, the workplace is hectic and busy. Stay at home orders have provided a rare chance to slow down and reflect on your business. Now is the perfect time to ask yourself why you got into this business in the first place, what your goals are, how you can work towards those goals right now, and what you can do to take care of your people in the meantime. If you already have a purpose or mission statement, take a look into the past and see if your organization has been true to that statement. Could changes be made? Does the statement still reflect your business?
- Understand the True Meaning of Purpose: When defining your purpose, it is important to think of it separately from profit. In the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, BlackRock described what it means for an organization to have a sense of purpose and delivered a powerful “purpose over profit” argument. Now, more than ever before, there is a focus on keeping the community safe, healthy, and employed. Finding ways for your purpose to support these initiatives will help your organizational purpose drive successful business decisions.
- Connect Your Purpose to the Future: Many organizations relate their purpose to their roots, how they originated and the fundamental values that their organization was built on. While all of this is important, right now, it is critical to explain how your purpose will bring your organization into the future. With unpredictable and ever-changing circumstances, communicate how your purpose will help the organization evolve and lead into the future.
- Put Your Purpose to Action: Once you have defined your purpose, it is important to go beyond words and put your purpose into action. If your organization makes products, see if there is a way you can create products to help the community through the crisis. For example, Ford and Dyson are now making ventilators and clothing brands like Nike are producing protective gear and face masks. If your organization provides a service, consider ways to improve or change your service to help the community. For example, many media outlets are providing free coverage on the pandemic to everyone without a subscription. The main idea here is to get creative and find a way that your organization and your purpose can best serve your community.
“Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential.” -BlackRock