Do you believe the company you work for cares about you? Do you feel you have a purpose at work?
“Sixty percent of employees express a need for purpose at work,” Anjan Thakor, Olin’s John E. Simon Professor of Finance, said during a recent Business Research Series event. “But they don’t get it at work.”
In addition, “88% of employees in US companies feel that the company they work for does not care for them,” Thakor said in his March 3 virtual presentation titled “How Can You Create a Purpose-Driven Organization?”
“Everybody hungers for purpose.”
The answer lies in organizations’ embracing an authentic higher purpose, he said, with the higher purpose as the “arbiter of all decisions.”
Thakor’s research shows employees of organizations with higher-purpose statements are happier and prouder of their organizations than are employees at workplaces without such a statement. The effects were stronger when the purpose statement was written—and tied to society, employees and customers, rather than shareholders.
From theory to practice
Here are eight guidelines, which are drawn from research and interviews with leaders of higher-purpose organization:
- Envision a purpose-driven organization.
- Discover the purpose.
- Meet the need for authenticity.
- Turn the higher purpose into a constant arbiter of all business decisions.
- Stimulate learning.
- Turn mid-level managers into purpose-driven leaders.
- Connect the people to the purpose.
- Unleash the positive energizers.
Thakor, along with University of Michigan colleague Robert Quinn, collaborated on the research, which culminated in a 2019 book entitled The Economics of Higher Purpose: Eight Counterintuitive Steps for Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization. The pair also collaborated on a 2018 cover story on the topic for the Harvard Business Review.