Is purpose a soft and fluffy concept to make people feel good, or can it be used to a force for good and to increase business success in profit terms.

People often see purpose and profit at opposing ends of the spectrum. As Twitter found Ev Williams describes “profits allows you to reinvest in purpose”

A great example of this is The Co-operative Group, a business that had lost sight of its reason for being and has over the last 3 years transformed and refocussed on its core purpose that had stood the test of time for more than a hundred years dating back to the Rochdale Pioneers.

The Co-op (as its been rebranded to reflect the height of its success in the 70s) spends a huge amount of time and effort articulating and reinforcing its “ways of being” with its colleagues.  All 80,000 colleagues across the business have been through an immersive training session using actors to bring the purpose and values to life – taking people on a journey to show where they’ve come from and importantly where they are going and how they’re going to get there.

Senior leaders spend time walking the walk to keep the energy and focus on “being Co-op” So why go to such trouble? Because we’re in a competitive market – the retail sector is undergoing unprecedented change and businesses need to differentiate to survive. At the same time we’re also in an incredibly tight labour market – for young talent, digital skills and experienced execs. A Deloitte study on Millennials found that two out of three young people have chosen their employer based on their values, and four out of five indicated they need to feel a sense of larger purpose to be satisfied in their work.

Purpose can not only help you win you top talent. It can also help you keep employees motivated and performing at their peak once you’ve hired them.

The renowned psychologist Maslow was noted for adding ‘purpose and values’ to his hierarchy of needs framework that describes human motivation. Once a person feels personally fulfilled their focus will shift to the greater good and they will be motivated to perform well in environments that chime with their desire to make a positive impact.

According to the Chief People Officer at The Co-op Helen Webb  “Our 2017 employee survey confirmed that Our Purpose was a key driver of colleague engagement. Colleagues who believe in the purpose and strategy of the Co-op are more likely to answer engagement questions positively.”

Employees with a sense of purpose are more likely to stay longer. A survey of 12,000 employees conducted by the Harvard Business Review and consultancy The Energy Project found that employees who find their work meaningful are more than three times as likely to stay with their organisations.

Purpose isn’t just a warm and fuzzy buzzword. It’s a real business differentiator that can help you not only attract and engage talent in the long term. That can only be good for the bottom line.

Source: Based on article - Purpose is the next business objective you need by Jessica Stillman.