Increased globalisation, the rise of new technologies and shifting expectations have led to new attitudes towards the world of work.

Millennials expect more flexibility, want to progress faster and change jobs more regularly. They've grown up in the era in which startups have gone from bedroom business to billion pound enterprises in a matter of months at the same time as joining the workforce during the financial crisis. 

Millennials see organisations as less permanent and certainly less reliable, if they are going to stay with one employer, the job needs to offer more than just money.

This coupled with disruption to the traditional business model, rapid technological change and a shift in consumer expectations means organisations are looking to connect with their employees and customers in new and different ways. They need the ability to reinvent themselves to stay relevant.

More and more executives are talking about the concept of purpose with good reason.  A study conducted by EY and Oxford University Saïd Business School found public conversation about purpose increased fivefold between 1995 and 2014.

There is a real sense that collective purpose can have a positive impact on business performance and create competitive advantage.

Research from EY and the Beacon Institute found that:

  •  90% of executives recognise the importance of having an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation 
  • 89% of executives surveyed said a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction
  • 80 percent said it helps increase customer loyalty
  • 84 percent said it can affect an organisation’s ability to transform

But whilst executives have a strong belief in the concept only a minority of companies are run in a purpose driven way. In the same survey only 46% said their company had a strong sense of purpose, while another 44% say their company is trying to develop one.

Given the high level of consensus around purpose, why aren’t more companies motivating employees with a strong purpose? 

As Valerie Keller from EY puts it "There is a need to balance the burning platform with a burning ambition: create a compelling ‘run to’ vision that’s magnetic and can help break through fears and inertia"

It's not just a soft and fluffy corporate statement replacing the mission and vision on the corporate website. Its about putting purpose at the heart of the every day culture of communications - from the way leaders bring the corporate narrative to life, tell authentic stories about their own purpose, through to how it expressed in team meetings to stimulate dialogue. It needs embedding in the systems and processes across the total employee experience - recruitment, development, performance management and reward.

Christine Crofts, Global Employee Engagement Director at Diageo suggests "If you can connect people to purpose, you can turbo charge your organisation. That's why many start-ups with a cause can create supercharged engagement, which is translated into performance."

Does your organisation have a burning ambition that is turbo charging your performance?