As Jack Welch, longtime CEO of General Electric, has said, “no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” It follows that businesses are actively competing to attract and retain top talent. Financial motives can certainly influence whether an in-demand hire accepts a position; however, a recent study found that 90 percent of millennial business students would be willing to take a lower-paying job if they felt like their work would have a more meaningful impact on society, which shows us that serving a higher purpose is essential to building competitive business teams.
Research shows that companies with happy, engaged and purpose-driven employees are more productive and experience less turnover than competitors, which ultimately leads to business success. Purpose not only strengthens internal culture but also positions your brand to be a driving force for good amongst other people and organizations who are also working to build a better world.
To truly lead a socially progressive business, purpose must start from within and radiate throughout business operations and brand identity. Corporate culture — defined as internal community — behavioral norms, and attitude in the working environment all influence the way your employees and team members feel about work and what motivates them to build your business. Essentially, companies with strong internal cultures perform better over time.
While internal culture is often considered the “secret sauce” in the recipe for success, there are ways to codify the effect of culture on business success and improve internal connections to scale purpose and profits.
The first step to truly building a company culture that fosters happy communities, meaningful social contributions, and robust profit margins is to measure key aspects of your company’s internal social make-up and assess the true impact of your mission-based initiatives.
A few ways to assess & activate internal culture and CSR
Employees that feel like they’re part of a community, and have the opportunity to achieve personal goals and advance society, are crucial to growing a business. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what awakens engagement in your business teams.
A tool that helps companies identify the level of internal engagement and offers insights into improvement methods is Gallop Polls Q12 Employee Engagement Survey. The assessment asks employees 12 questions about their vested connections with the company that go beyond financial compensation.
Ultimately, providing feedback, ensuring that employees understand the company’s social mission, and how they’re work is valuable to the company as a whole is essential to strengthening employee engagement.
While engagement is vital to high-performing business teams, motivation is what truly sparks internal drive and overall productivity.
In the 1980s, researchers from Rochester shaped the conversation of work-related motivation by breaking down incentives into 6 categories: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic stress and inertia.
The first three — or ‘the three Ps to progress’ — consistently produce better performance, improve motivation, and increase output; whereas the latter three have a negative impact on productivity. Companies that embody the three Ps, while also minimizing the aforementioned work-related stresses, tend to maximize Total Motivation (ToMo). In other words, internal teams work harder when they enjoy what they are doing, feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, and see the opportunity for long-term personal success within the company.
Researchers from Harvard created a metric that maps ToMo with business success and found a strong correlation between employee motivation and predictors of financial performance, such as customer satisfaction. The researchers then highlighted key business processes and how those influence the individual’s ToMo. While leadership certainly affects corporate culture, studies show that role design, company identity, and personal opportunity have the biggest influence on ToMo. Therefore, it’s essential that brands design jobs so that they incorporate aspects of play, purpose and potential.
It’s easy to pay lip service about social impact and sustainability, but to truly be a company with a mission you must measure, improve upon and monitor your brand’s social impact. What’s more, employees are quick to sense whether your brand is truly making a difference or just leveraging social good to generate positive PR, which can make or break meaningful internal – and external – culture.
This self-assessment tool developed by the United Nations is an excellent resource for companies that want to measure their corporate social responsibility. The framework helps businesses assess CSR across governance, environmental footprint, labour relations and business environment verticals.
To truly ‘walk the walk’ of real purpose — both within your company and out in the world — you must quantify your impact, set targets and monitor internal culture to accelerate your social mission and financial progress.
This post first appeared on the WeFirst blog in July 2017.