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Purpose Is Becoming More Critical to Attract, Retain Employees

A new report has found that more than 1 in 4 British managers would take a pay cut for a purpose-led job, a third would leave their job if the company’s overall purpose was unclear, and more than half would leave if their company’s values and purpose did not align with their own. Purposeful leadership is no longer a ‘luxury’ CSR exercise — its becoming critical to staff engagement and commercial resilience.

The report, The Courage of their Convictions: How purposeful companies can prosper in an uncertain world, was informed by a YouGov survey commissioned by Danone UK. The survey results suggest that managers who focus on salary over purpose could be overlooking other important non-monetary factors of job satisfaction that derive from being part of a purpose-led business culture. Purpose-led staff were found to be more positive, more engaged and have greater career confidence.



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“In our experience, if an organisation fits the personal values of an individual and gives them a sense of purpose, people will naturally contribute both within their role and to the wider business. The on-going job for companies like ours is two-fold: to ensure that the purpose is clear, meaningful and relevant to all, and to empower people to make a difference,” said Liz Ellis, HR Director at Danone UK & Ireland.

Danone, Target,
P&G, Unilever

and more
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and Engagement
SB'18 Vancouver
The Courage of their Convictions builds on the data with information from interviews with senior leaders from within some of the UK’s biggest purpose-driven brands, including Danone, John Lewis, Mars, Philips, Tata Consultancy Services and Unilever. Five key stages these organizations went through as they built up from a strong purpose to a more agile and enduring organization are identified: Define; Communicate; Imbue; Encourage; and Review.

The report concludes with an agenda for action for others who would like to follow in the featured leaders’ footsteps. Companies are encouraged to work through the five steps, which can enable and welcome public scrutiny of how aligned their stated purpose is with their actual performance. To be a genuinely purpose-led business, there can be no gap between what is said and what is done.

“We have just seen Facebook run into major difficulty because it has shown that its main motivation has been profit, growth, and share price rather than serving customers and society,” added Mark Goyder, founder of Tomorrow’s Company and the report’s author. “In this report you will find companies, both young and old, which are adapting to society’s needs and prospering because they have a purpose beyond profit.”

A potential challenge for businesses is that only 55 percent of the managers surveyed believed it was their role to embed a purpose beyond profit mind-set more widely across the organization.

“Bringing to life the purpose into your company is an ongoing process that builds and evolves over time. It requires continual commitment and nurturing,” said Ellis. “What’s important is that there is constant awareness to ensure that actions and commitments are consistent with your purpose. Trust and confidence can easily be eroded.”


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