Purpose At Work: How To Create Meaning To Motivate Your Team

People value a sense of purpose so much that many would take a pay cut to get it - here's how to imbue your business with goals everyone can aim for.

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People value a sense of purpose so much that many would take a pay cut to get it - here's how to imbue your business with goals everyone can aim for.


Purpose At Work: How To Create Meaning To Motivate Your Team

People value a sense of purpose so much that many would take a pay cut to get it - here's how to imbue your business with goals everyone can aim for.

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Does the work you do make a difference to your company? Does it have a positive impact on others? Do you feel a sense of purpose?

Unfortunately, several studies have revealed that many of us feel our hours at the office don’t count for much. A recent study from LinkedIn reported that 49% of employees would trade a portion of their salary to continue in their current role with an added sense of purpose.

The study also revealed that these purpose-driven professionals prove to be extremely valuable talent. 30% are more likely to be high performers and almost 50% are likely to be promoters of their company. Why then are these purpose-driven companies that are so in demand available in such short supply?

Scott Mautz, author of ‘Make it Matter’ cites the greatest business conundrum of our time as ‘working with shrinking budgets and compressed timelines but inflated demands for productivity.’ He notes that we are working harder and longer for much less, and sadly, without much conviction. The result is an increase in demotivated and disengaged employees who are not fulfilling their maximum potential.

Most people want to make some kind of positive impact in the lives of others, be it your team, your company, or on wider society. And in many cases, our jobs do have a positive impact, but we are too far removed from the end result to truly understand how we can benefit others.

Too many companies believe a pay increase, work perks, or promotions are enough to win back disengaged employees, when in fact, the real solution could be the most simple and cost-effective method - enriching their work with a greater sense of meaning and significance. Making their work matter.

Defining purpose in the workplace

In order to imbue work with a greater sense of purpose, you need to focus on the how and the why. The ‘why’ is your company vision - what your company stands for and what you strive to achieve. The ‘how’ is your company values - these are the fundamental beliefs of your company. They define how we behave, work, interact with one another, and ultimately, guide the company on the right path to fulfilling its long-term goals.

So how can we channel the ‘how’ and ‘why’ into achieving a higher sense of purpose in work?

1.    Share the bigger picture

I have been fortunate enough to work with two great companies who treated their vision and values as the highest priority. From day one, at both LinkedIn and Pipedrive, I was immersed in company culture. It was communicated in no uncertain terms that to succeed in the company meant a commitment to the company vision. It meant living and breathing the company values. This is an important step in an onboarding process, but it shouldn’t stop there.

It is crucial for leadership to continue to share the vision and long-term goals of a company and to keep the lines of communication open. You need to empower your employees by giving them a voice and granting them the autonomy to make a true impact. When you believe and embrace the culture and values of your company, it keeps you focused on what matters to the business. And when you truly understand how your role contributes to the company vision, it instills a sense of purpose in your work.

2.            Champion company culture

There is nothing like a positive company culture to solidify team relationships, promote camaraderie, and instill a sense of purpose and belonging in employees. Really feeling part of a team and understanding how you enhance and help the team to excel makes a huge impact on the meaning of your role.

Build a culture of celebration to show how you value your team and their work. Recognition of the impact of someone’s work not only helps to raise awareness of how they are contributing to the company vision, it also shows that they are appreciated. Include rewards outside monetary incentives - treat your team to lunch or arrange a team-building activity. It’s a fun and effective way to strengthen relationships and really show you care.

A positive company culture can only succeed when everybody gets on board, so make sure your team understands the benefits of truly living the company values.

3.            Promote self-development

Investing in your employees is an effective way to motivate them and build loyalty. Providing opportunities for ongoing training and development, both professionally and personally, will help to energise your team and set them up for long-term employability.

Encourage your team to set goals outside of the scope of their work and show a genuine interest in helping them to achieve these goals. This is a simple way to demonstrate that you actually care.

When employees feel your sole interest lies in how they can contribute to the company’s bottom line, the relationship begins to feel cold and transactional. It lacks a deeper sense of meaning and compassion and it will be short lived. Treating employees as commodities is a sure fire way to lose them. Inspire your team to constantly better themselves and guide them along the way.

4.            Make a positive impact on the lives of others

Leaders need to find a way help their employees to feel connected to those who are impacted by their work. Share success stories and customer feedback with your team. Consider how you could host an event that brings employees and customers together. They need to understand who they are helping and how they are making a difference in their lives.

Giving back to the world as a company is also a powerful way to inspire your employees. There are many ways to achieve this. Encourage your employees to take a day out to get involved in a mentorship programme or volunteer at a soup kitchen.

Use one of your team bonding activities to give back to the community. Raise funds collectively for a cause you believe in. Encouraging altruism can help your employees to find greater meaning in their work life by contributing to people outside their direct line of work.

A true sense of purpose comes from within

When I consider a new position, one of the major deciding factors for me is whether I truly believe in the company vision and if I can find meaning in it. Without this, I know I’m going to have a hard time motivating myself.

For me, Pipedrive was an ideal fit. I strongly believe in the product and the company vision. I fell in love with the people I met from the very beginning and really felt that we shared the same values.

Having a broader impact is also important. I liked the fact that SMBs were Pipedrive’s main audience, who are ‘the core engine’ of the economy, and the most in need of digitalisation. Making an impact bears five dimensions: on the world and society, on your customers, on your organisation, on your time, and finally on yourself.

And finally, the role provided an opportunity to actually make an impact on an organisation and its people. Having this sense of meaning in my work means that even when things become challenging, which they inevitably will, I can come back time and time again to the purpose of my role and find the motivation to perform.

While it’s important for companies to communicate the significance of the role, a sense of purpose truly comes from within. It’s near impossible to find meaning in a company that doesn’t share your values.

One of the most effective ways to build a meaningful workplace is to find people who align with the vision and values of your company. A clear sense of purpose is not only beneficial in terms of productivity and performance, but also for the overall well-being and happiness of your workforce.

Teams that truly thrive are bound by a collective respect for the company vision and values and united in a higher sense of purpose in their work. When people are motivated to work towards the bigger picture and long-term goals of your company, that’s when the meaning really shines through.

Laurence Bret-Stern is CRO at Pipedrive.

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Purpose At Work: How To Create Meaning To Motivate Your Team

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