How to Help Your Employees Find Purpose at Work
“Does what I do matter?”
Every person on the planet wants to know the answer to this question. This is especially true for employees that are feeling unstable and uncertain about their future. Employees that have a clear sense of their purpose are more engaged, more loyal, and more productive too.
Amidst the pandemic, your team is looking for hope. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly one-third of all Americans currently suffer from depression and anxiety. As quarantine orders took effect, self-help book sales shot up by 39%. Man has been searching for meaning from the beginning of time. With more white space on the calendar, the topic of purpose has become essential to how we hire, lead, and listen.
Without purpose, you and your team members will become discouraged, distracted, and disengaged. With purpose, you will find significance, fulfillment, and motivation. We want to share with you exactly how to help your team start to discover their purpose and apply it to what they do every day.
It reminds us of the old fable of two bricklayers.
A man walked by two bricklayers. He asked the first man what he was doing. He stood up from the wall he was building and answered, “I’m laying bricks.”
The man took a few more steps and found the second bricklayer. He asked the same question: what are you doing? The second bricklayer picked up the next brick, and without hesitation, answered, “I’m building a cathedral.” Both of these bricklayers were accurate, but only one had a purpose.
Every employee at every level of your organization wants to know two things.
First, do they matter?
Second, does their work matter?
We have seen companies change their leadership model to focus on answering these two questions and experience amazing results. One gym chain went from #250 in the country in customer experience to reach Top Five in their industry. Another company with over 500 employees increased their revenue by 65% within 6 months.
When people know why they matter and how their work matters, they work harder, feel happier, and perform better.
We had the opportunity to spend the last week working with Naval Sea Command on finding purpose and using it to advance the Mission. One of the commanders shared with me how they connect the individual purpose of an employee to the purpose of the organization.
This base commander saw that the men and women on the base were losing their sense of mission and he needed to light the fire and remind them of their purpose.
He did something pretty incredible.
He started taking teams of people off-base to the shipyard and gave them a tour of the ships they were supporting. Most of them had never been on anything that big. He went through each part of the ship, sharing how it’s used, and why it is essential to the mission. He told stories of how the ships had helped humanitarian, peacekeeping, and combat efforts around the world.
He then had each person touch a part of the ship and think about how their daily work helped to support that big hunk of metal. Maybe one of the employees was in human resources and helped staff the base. Perhaps they were in technical support or training or catering. Every person had to articulate to their peers how their work supported that ship. As a result, you know what happened?
The culture changed. People started seeing the mission behind their daily grind.
Today’s employees feel unstable—from layoffs to work from home orders and virtual schooling. The future is uncertain and they are searching for clarity. Every person, from the janitor to the CEO needs to know that they’re work matters.
They need to know their purpose.
Knowing your purpose (and how it connects to what you do every day) is the foundation of fulfillment. Fulfillment is the antidote to uncertainty. When you don’t know your purpose, you are unsure how your work matters and are left feeling unclear and unstable.
Here is how to discuss purpose with your employees.
1.Ask them questions about their purpose:
- Do you see your job as a platform to use your purpose?
- What about the company’s purpose most resonates with you?
- What is the most fulfilled day you have ever had at work? What were you doing? Who were you helping? Why did that make you feel significant?
2.Go through a book on purpose and meaning at work with your employees. Virtual book clubs are great ways to engage your team on meaningful issues. Consider our new book on finding and applying purpose, The Purpose Factor: Extreme Clarity for Why You’re Here and What to Do About It.
3.Connect their personal purpose to the purpose of the organization. Have employees interview clients and customers who have benefited from the work they do. Train managers and leaders to coach their team from a place of purpose.
There will be a clear line between those companies who know their purpose and use it, and those that choose to ignore the power of purpose. Leaders who lean into the needs of their people and provide them a path toward significance will emerge from the crisis stronger.
When you discover your purpose, everything changes. Every day matters. Every setback has significance. Revenue comes easier. Relationships prosper. You do more than get by; you are pulled by using what you have to help others.
Your employees have lived long enough without the clarity they crave. It’s time to go from simply existing to really living.
Brian and Gabrielle Bosché have been called the “next generation’s motivational titans.” They are bestselling authors, international speakers, and founders of The Purpose Company. There newest book, The Purpose Factor, is available for preorder now.
Categories Authenticity, Business/Leadership, Employee engagement, Leadership, Relationships, Workplace Culture