The way we work is broken. Workplace trends show that employees are resigning in greater volume than ever, jobs are being created at a slower rate than any of the prior 7 months, and employee wellbeing is flatlining at best. The seeds of employee distrust were planted well before Covid-19 and now they have spread into a problem that every employer needs to address.
Companies have long tried to create cultures where employees are working towards a greater collective goal. Employees used to spend years or entire careers at one company with blind loyalty or belief in corporate missions. Today employees are looking to belong to a greater purpose and aren’t afraid to jump from job to job until they find it.
Creating a People-First Workplace
Not only has the way we work changed, but also the work to be done has changed as well. Technology and globalization mean that employees are doing the work that only people can do, like collaborating, innovating and empathizing. Employees are able to work on these higher-level work challenges when they are operating as their highest selves, coming into work with healthy minds, bodies and spirits.
Gone are the days where employees can be treated as cogs in a wheel. Trends in the business landscape met with the simultaneous crises of the 2020’s have shifted power from employers to employees. Employees demand meaningful work experiences and connections with their teams and companies.
How can companies bring back the magic that makes employees excited and dedicated to their work? It is one of the deepest human joys to achieve something larger than ourselves in a team, working towards a common goal. Similarly, living purposefully means that you are connecting your choices and behavior to something important in the world that you want to achieve. Regardless of the scale of your purpose, it provides a compelling reason to get you out of bed every morning beyond your own wellbeing or wealth. Companies need to focus equally on providing purpose as they do on other benefits and compensation.
Creating Meaningful Change in Your Organization
Take action to authentically show up for your employees. It’s time to throw a party, but this is a different type of party. Free beer and kombucha and promises of Summer Fridays are table stakes. We can create conditions to empower people to be fulfilled. We must equip them to be change agents of their lives by investing in their mindset and skills, not trying to feed them purpose directly. Happiness comes from more than just our work.
It’s time to throw a purpose party. According to Marc Spencer, CEO of Summer Search, “A life of purpose is a life of joy! When you have an understanding of how your life has meaning, it brings joy, clarity, awareness of aspirations.” A purpose party is the first step to getting below the surface with your employees. It doesn’t take months of planning or a call to the caterer. It only takes gathering to have conversations that go deeper than the day to day activities of your business.
Like most 2020s parties, set up a zoom link and rally the company around a new type of conversation. Start with your favorite party chat opener if you remember them, like “Can I ask you a weird question?” or “this might sound random, but bear with me.” Or even just “Hey, great to see you!”
And then dive in. Try this, “My best days are when…” Or “I am excited to come to work on Mondays because…”. Ask employees to answer those same questions. Listen, and ask more. It might be awkward at first as people start to talk about themselves outside the context of work, but creating the space for these conversations is the first step.
While throwing a purpose party scratches the surface of conversation, it’s important to make this a recurring event. Continue these conversations and questions in other meetings as meeting openers or as a way to check-in with the people you work with. It only takes a few catalysts engaging in these types of conversations to help grow the movement. Encourage your party guests to host their own purpose parties with other colleagues around the firm.
It doesn’t take long for positive things to catch fire. As Lorie Yañez, Head of DEI at MassMutual, commented, “We’re at a tipping point. With 50% of leaders at advanced levels of cultural competence, those of us championing an inclusive approach don’t feel alone anymore.” By making purpose a topic of conversation in your immediate circle, you can catalyze change to get to that tipping point.
Start these conversations and watch the benefits accrue. Purpose is the most powerful, and most authentic, motivator out there. Sandi Kronic, CEO at Happy Dirt, says “When I’m in my purpose, it doesn’t even feel like Im doing anything for anyone else!”
Bring Purpose to your Workplace Today
A purpose party doesn’t need to be a big event. Bringing intentional conversation to your workplace can start with one-on-one conversations or team meetings. Make time to discuss the simple elements of why you do what you do as a way to remember why you’re all there. Engaging employees on their purpose will help them find ways to bring more of themselves to work and contribute to something only achievable when everyone comes together.
Email us for a free worksheet to start growing purposefully, as a habit, in order to multiply all the ways you can begin to go first for your team. Learn more about my new book, Going First: Find the Courage to lead Purposefully and Inspire Action, here.