3 Ways to Put Purpose Into Practice

From entrepreneurs to executives and employees, every professional wants to be part of a thriving, successful business. But, what defines success? At first take, many would define a successful business as one that is profitable, but consider the following:

  • According to Gallup, if employees don’t know what their organization stands for and what makes it different, 70 percent will leave within one year. 

  • CNBC reports that 86 percent of millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own. 

Clearly, people want to be part of something more than the pursuit of money and profits. They want to be part of something meaningful. To be truly successful, businesses must be driven by a purpose – a way that they are solving a widespread problem or contributing to the greater good. As we’ve previously written (BLOG: Why Is This Important? The Case for Purpose-Driven Businesses), putting purpose at the center of business isn’t only morally and ethically the right choice, it also makes strong business sense. Research shows that purpose-driven companies perform better…a lot better.  

A 2019 article from Deloitte Insights states that purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow on average three times faster than their competitors, all the while achieving higher employee and customer satisfaction. Purpose-driven companies report 30 percent higher levels of innovation and 40 percent higher levels of workforce retention than their competitors. 

Further, researchers Millward Brown and Jim Stengel developed a list of the world’s 50 fastest-growing brands based on 10 years of empirical research involving 50,000 companies. Known as the Stengel 50, they found that purpose-driven companies saw 400 percent more returns on the stock market than the S&P 500 (Source: Inc.). 

The evidence is clear:  it pays for companies to be purpose driven. With so much supporting evidence, it seems an overwhelming majority of businesses would be pursuing this strategy. But, the facts say otherwise. 

For example, we examined the largest 100 employers in one fast-growing U.S. city with a population of more than 500,000 people. Forty percent of the top 100 employers did not have their mission, vision, or values on their website. This begs the question, do they have them at all? And if they do, why not share?  Another 20% communicated one of the three, 20% shared two of the three, and only 20% communicated all three. Therefore, despite all of the research demonstrating the value of being purpose driven, few businesses are actually putting it in practice.  

Sure, becoming a purpose-driven business can take time and seem overwhelming, but it is actually pretty simple. First, establish your purpose – your “why” – and formally articulate it in your mission, vision, and values. And maybe that is the hard part – but it should be. 

Being purpose driven isn’t just something you say, it’s something you DO! So, the next step is to bring it to life! Here are three key ways you can easily move your purpose into action:

  1. Share It – Integrate your purpose into all of your internal and external messaging. Make it part of your brand, your ethos, your culture, and share it widely with employees, partners, and of course, customers. Not only will this help inspire employees to live the purpose, it will also encourage accountability.

  2. Use It As a Guide – Begin using your purpose as your company’s North Star – a guide for your decision-making relevant to operations, internal practices, hiring, choosing partners and vendors, etc. To truly live your purpose, make sure it is reflected at every level and touchpoint of your organization. 

  3. Incentivize It – Rather than rewarding leaders and employees solely on achieving financial goals and targets, make part of your incentive program based on how well they live the company’s vision, mission, and values in their work. Reward those who are bringing your purpose to life every day. 

What a wonderful thing it is to acknowledge that to make more money, we must do more good! It’s antiquated to think only about maximizing profit…that is, unless you realize the best way to do that is by having a higher purpose. It brings us great joy to help business leaders realize this and transform their companies into being both more purpose driven and more profitable.