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Why purpose will be more important than ever in a post-pandemic world

As much as the pandemic tested leadership, the real test starts now as the crisis fades and the hard work of maintaining alignment for staff and stakeholders, innovating or reforming business for this new world begins.

The biggest challenge will be ensuring employees feel connected to and embedded within businesses. There is now a real sense that people want their work to count – or that doing something that matters counts – and critically, it’s not all altruistic.

Having a well-developed and defined purpose is not only key to attracting and retaining the best talent, but for overcoming a raft of other challenges business leaders now face – the glue that will keep your business on track on several fronts as we emerge from one of the biggest crises in our working history.  

Data shows that purpose-led organisations have more engaged employees, increased levels of innovation, achieve greater growth and connect more deeply with customers, stakeholders, shareholders and their communities, which is good news for any business looking to recalibrate and thrive coming out of the pandemic.

Retaining and attracting the best talent

According to Deloitte research, purpose-led companies have 40 per cent higher levels of staff retention than their competitors and a more satisfied workforce who remain with them for longer.

This is key when you consider the talent war that companies worldwide now face. Statistics show that the global talent shortage is now at a fifteen-year high, with 69% of companies reporting staff shortages, up from just 35% in 2013. More people than ever before are re-evaluating their life, work, and career as part of what has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’.

Beyond wanting to contribute more to society, they want to work for an organisation they believe in – one that stands for something, knows where it’s going and why. Even if is to be the best at what it does, employees want to work for a company with focus and momentum in moving towards a common goal for the good of its clients, the business, the people who work with and for it.

When people have a choice in where they’re going to work and have multiple options for moving, employers have no choice but to ensure they have a clearly defined business purpose and reason for attracting the best people in their industry; otherwise, they’ll be left behind. 

Driving innovation

Innovation is a business imperative now more than ever before. Placing purpose at the core of your organisation’s innovation strategy will allow you to focus efforts in the right areas and motivate and inspire your team to deliver your strategy and drive results.

2019 EY survey of 1,000 senior decision-makers from three global industries revealed that 63.4% majority of executives believed that having a sense of purpose and aspiration beyond their day-to-day commercial mission made their company more innovative and more able to disrupt or respond to disruption. It showed purpose to be a positive driver for innovation because it:

  • creates a culture that supports innovation
  • strengthens innovation by focusing on meaningful impact beyond traditional corporate metrics
  • facilitates external collaboration, and
  • enables organisations to think differently so they can act differently

Innovation is never easy. But purpose – by motivating your people and focusing on what really matters – can help make it happen.

Generating growth

Even the most financially focused leaders and businesses see the benefits of purpose for attracting investors and driving profit and growth. 

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) coined the phrase ‘purpose pays’ for a reason. Studies show that purpose-driven organisations perform better, sometimes by a factor of ten than their competitors. BCG’s in-depth analysis of the link between purpose and performance further revealed that a deeply ingrained purpose correlates strongly with a ten-year total shareholder return.

The reason? Purpose provides momentum, gives an organisation something to aim for and corrals everyone in the business behind it. Employees know what they are doing and why every single day, whether it’s creating products on the factory floor, working in the accounts department, reception, or leadership. A real sense of focus and alignment incentivises the organisation and paves the way for great experiences and innovation. 

Rest assured, we will see more demand from workers for momentum and drive in their place of employment as they return to work in 2022.

Read more: Australian consumers back purpose driven businesses: Zero Group Report

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Trudi Cassin

Trudi Cassin

Trudi Cassin is the Managing Partner of Brand Council, an independent consultancy with a depth of experience in purpose-led transformation and corporate brand strategy. Brand Council works with some of Australia’s and the world’s premier brands by using purpose to drive growth, value and economic and behavioural change.

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