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Purpose makes your business future-proof

19 May 2021

Purpose – we all need one. That's why organisations must focus on showing people the greater picture of their actions. More than ever during these challenging times like the Covid-19 pandemic. Find out how from Renewi HR Director, Helen Richardson.

No one knows what a post-covid society will look like. As we enter 2021 with the virus still looming over us, HR leaders need a solid foundation to face uncertain times. Such a founding pillar is a shared organisational purpose. Leaders know it, but only 34% use it as a guidepost for their actions despite the fact that purpose-driven companies show higher engagement and loyalty among their employees. If organisations wish to succeed, this must change.

Covid-19 has shown that organisations need to remain nimble, and where required to  continuously reinvent themselves. If companies are to create a better tomorrow, employers and employees need to work collaboratively to create organisational purpose. If leaders’ work in isolation, such a shift will have little impact. It’s the purpose co-created with employees that will help foster trust, commitment, and curiosity – the fertile ground for a learning mindset.

A curious mind in challenging times

In an increasingly fast-paced era, a learning mindset is XXI century man’s best ally to tackle problems from different, and fresh, angles. But this alone is insufficient and can bring chaos as people differ in their culture, backgrounds and approaches. That’s why people, teams and organisations need a long-term goal; a compass to use to stick to a target and react to during uncertain times. For example, Renewi employees know that collecting waste streams is essential. All the more so while society was on its knees during the first lockdown in the spring of 2020. No matter the risks involved, our people kept doing their job, and absenteeism was at an all-time low. Renewi employees saw first-hand their impact on society, and when communities applauded them for sticking to their duty they felt proud to help society function!

In an era with many societal challenges, linking the organisation’s mission to one or more of these challenges will bring pride to employees. When companies show internally and externally that they are doing something for the common good, employees will feel responsible and act with greater accountability. In this way, leaders will earn a group of motivated employees with a strong bond to the organisation and its purpose. A job gives employees a sense of safety and security, but it’s purpose helps them digest hiccups, pressure or failures, and keep moving forward.

Bring emotions to people

Trust and curiosity cover employees’ psychological needs. Once met, it’s time to give them the means to pursue self-fulfilment. If HR leaders wish to untap people’s potential to stay engaged and motivated, they can use changing times like 2021 to define a higher purpose that weaves in the company’s interest with the employees’ pride as members of our society. The simpler the resulting message, the more it will simplify processes within complex organisations. The more powerful the resulting message, the more effectively it will bring loyalty, creativity and enthusiasm.

When I use the word powerful, I mean charged with emotions. The same emotions that get people out of bed every given day to take care of their children. Emotions triggered by seeing people in your community smiling at you. The same that bring celebration after finding a new approach or solution to a common problem. We all need emotions in our lives, that’s what makes us feel alive. Organisations that first feel rather than think will turn into magnets for the best candidates – people who wish to work hard and keep learning to create a better world.

Read here the full interview (Dutch) with HR Square magazine: