One of the most important characteristics of a successful business in today’s world is having a clear, concise organizational purpose. Purpose-driven companies often have higher levels of employee engagement, which leads to increased productivity, loyalty, and lower turnover.
A survey conducted by Deloitte found that 73 percent of employees who feel that they work for a purpose-driven company said that they are engaged, whereas only 23 percent of respondents that don’t feel they work for a purpose-driven company are engaged.
Most if not all companies have a mission or vision statement, but the underlying values behind those statements are what defines a company’s purpose.
So the question is, what are the most common organizational values that purpose-driven organizations instill in their business practices?
Many companies invest heavily in their employees in the form of professional development. These companies take on the responsibility of helping their employees hone their skills and gain credentials that will help them to advance their careers. Examples include tuition reimbursement for graduate degree programs, continuing education courses, and covering the costs of attending conferences and workshops. These programs often lead to increased employee engagement, as a survey by BetterBuys found that employees with professional development opportunities are 15% more engaged.
One reason many companies will not offer professional development opportunities is because they don’t want their employees to leave their jobs. In practice, though, offering professional development opportunities has the opposite effect.
In another survey conducted by BetterBuys, they determined there is a 34 percent higher retention rate for companies that choose to offer professional development. Also, of the employees surveyed, 75% of the employees with professional development opportunities said they planned to stay with their employers for another 5 years, whereas only 56% of workers without professional development opportunities said the same.
One of the best examples of a large company investing in professional development is the drug store chain Walgreens. Walgreens developed their own “Walgreens University” that includes a mock drugstore and classrooms with video-conferencing capabilities. They host over 100 courses that are taught by both Walgreens executives as well as local college faculty. They even partnered with the Lake Forest Graduate school of management which offers an MBA customized for Walgreens. Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, the chief human resources officer said, “We aim to be the best in our industry for employee education and training, and among the best of all major American corporations.”
Corporate Social Responsibility
Companies that seek to improve the economy, society, and the environment have also been proven to exhibit higher levels of employee engagement. Companies that engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs recognize that prioritizing social responsibility alongside profits is a proven method of increasing engagement, retention, and reputation. CSR can take many forms, but some of the most common methods that companies engage include reducing their carbon footprint, charity and philanthropy work, and volunteering.
One of the best examples of a company that makes CSR a priority is Xerox. Xerox employs many CSR initiatives, but there are a few that stand out from the rest. The Xerox Community Involvement program empowers local teams of employees with the funds to select and work on local projects that benefit their community. The Xerox Science Consultant program delivers hands-on science lessons to students in grades 4-6 that aim to make science more fun for students. Xerox has also partnered with FIRST to bring together students and Xerox scientists to build fully functional robots to help these students channel their curiosity while showing science and engineering concepts at work.
Embracing diversity in the workplace is another common characteristic of successful businesses. In most cases, companies that make diversity and inclusion a big part their purpose experience higher levels of engagement.
Sodexo, one of the top 50 companies for diversity, found in their employee engagement survey that diversity is one of the top two key engagement drivers for employees. Also in a report by McKinsey, they found that companies in the top quartile of racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have higher financial returns than the industry median.
EY was recently crowned the top company for diversity in 2017 after ranking in the Top 10 for the past eight years. They have 11.1% more women in leadership than the rest of the Top 50 companies for diversity and an astounding 44.7% more than the S&P 500. EY’s values of diversity and inclusion are deeply rooted in their business practices, and they are considered the gold standard. For example, they became the first professional services firm to equalize paid parental leave for mothers and fathers. EY’s extensive efforts to weave diversity and inclusion in all their business practices has resulted in an extremely engaged workforce.
It’s clear that there is a strong correlation between purpose-driven organizations and higher levels of employee engagement. When a company wants to determine what their purpose is, a great place to start is to look at what the company’s values are.
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