Finally! We have research that actually quantifies the importance of purpose. Taken from a recent survey of more that 6,300 adult age, full-time employed, U.S. based workers in a wide range of industries and job types, the 2015 Workforce Purpose Index shows that just 28% of U.S. workers define, “the role of work in their lives primarily as a source of personal fulfillment and a way to help others.” 72% indicated in the study that work is just a means to an end.
Why is this important?
It’s important because purpose-driven employees bring more value to their work. The study indicates that purpose-oriented workers stay 20% longer at companies, are 50% more likely to be in leadership positions, are 47% more likely to be promoters of their employers, and have 64% higher levels of fulfillment in their work. They also have stronger relationships with their coworkers, they believe their work makes an impact, and they are more likely to grow personally and professionally.
It’s also important because purpose-oriented employers attract purpose-oriented workers. So the fastest way to having higher performing teams is for leadership to infuse purpose into every aspect of their companies.
While I’ve been writing and speaking over the past few years about the importance of infusing indigenous values into the modern realm of business, I’ve received many sideways looks. And I get that it’s hard for many people trained in the modern way of doing business to make the jump from spreadsheets and tactical plans to indigenous village elders sitting at the fire telling stories to children.
But it’s true; the old ways have much to teach us about how to do business. Traditional indigenous people just don’t rely on research. And that’s okay; more research is coming out all the time quantifying the value of infusing values into organizations that closely approximate the value systems of indigenous culture. The researchers and business thought leaders who write books and go on the speaking circuit talking about values in business don’t know that they’re really talking about indigenous values, but they are.
What the 2015 Workforce Purpose Index does is validate the aspect of indigenous culture that infuses purpose into everything everyone does, all the time. Typically when individuals have the opportunity to observe or participate in a traditional indigenous ceremony they have many questions about why things are being done a certain way, and what the meaning is behind each formality. In a sense, there is a romantic expression of wonder that is evoked within many who observe these ceremonies.
The truth is, all the formalities, songs, procedures, dances, offerings, and gestures have meanings behind them, along with stories of how they came to be. Those who engage in these ceremonies for some time eventually come to understand their meanings, and that those meanings exist to teach us (through the very structure of ceremony itself) that life is about purpose.
Disengagement in our work, stress related disorders, and humdrum existences are what we get when we forget how important purpose is. The indigenous people have always known this. Now we have modern world research to support it.
So shall we all start talking more about purpose?
Great article. This defines what we’ve known for sometime. There are 2 different camps. The most interesting part is a relation between two people from different camps
You make an excellent point Art. Yes, when those who are intrinsically driven by purpose engage with those who merely work for a paycheck, all sorts of interesting dynamics can evolve. In my own experience working in organizations large and small, and coming from a deeper place of purpose, I have often bumped heads with people who would rather not do more than the minimum required. I’ve even been asked point blank, “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” as to some people my efforts didn’t make sense. And yet, the more we orient organizations around purpose we instill cultures that support purpose.
All the best,