how can managers create Purpose At Work

How To Create Purpose At Work For Your Employees?

Why is purpose at work important in the modern workplace? Picture this: You stroll into the office, a spring in your step, humming your favorite tune, ready to tackle the day’s challenges. You know why you’re here beyond the simple pursuit of a paycheck. You have a sense of direction, a connection to something greater than yourself. It’s as if you’ve found your very own magic wand capable of casting spells of inspiration and fulfillment.

But hold on a moment! Before we dive deeper into the why and how of purpose at work, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. We’re all aware that work can sometimes feel trapped in a never-ending “Whack-a-Mole,” where you’re constantly swatting away mundane tasks and dealing with office politics. Trust me, we’ve all been there.

But here’s the catch: the purpose is not a one-time revelation that forever banishes the Sunday evening blues. It’s a constant journey of exploration, growth, and adaptation. Just like a skilled wizard constantly hones their craft, you, too, must nurture your purpose, aligning it with the ever-changing work landscape.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of purpose at work, the role of leadership in cultivating purpose, practical steps to establish a purpose-driven culture, and strategies for overcoming challenges in maintaining purpose at work.

Purpose can be defined as the reason that propels individuals to find meaning and fulfillment in their work. It goes beyond simply completing tasks and earning a paycheck. The purpose is about having a greater sense of direction and connection to something bigger than oneself. It provides employees with a sense of meaning, passion, and drive, enabling them to fully engage with their work and contribute to the success of the organization. Purpose is not just a nice-to-have; it is a fundamental aspect of employee well-being and performance.

What does a lack of purpose at work look like?

Lack of purpose at work can take many forms. From mismatched work to bored employees, here are some tell-tale signs of lack of purpose at work that every manager should note and act upon: 

  • Low engagement and interest in what’s happening around 
  • Falling performance and productivity 
  • Creativity, innovation, and risk-taking attitude are missing 
  • Isolation and withdrawal, frustration and negative attitude 
  • Not implementing feedback, absenteeism
  • Signs of stress and physical impact of meaninglessness

Why is your team stuck purposeless?

A lack of purpose at work can be due to many reasons, but to list the primary ones, we can consider the following:

  • A misalignment between an individual’s values and goals and that of the organization 
  • Lack of clarity from the seniors and managers about the direction of the organization 
  • Work that turns boring quickly due to monotony, micromanagement, or heavily siloed teams 
  • Lack of opportunities to connect or grow 
  • Rapid changes that are not explained to the team
In a shocking revelation, McKinsey shares that 2 out of 3 employees in the United States reconsidered their jobs as the pandemic hit. The cause – a purpose, or the lack of it. Before you think that purpose is a very personal matter. Let’s clarify: while purpose is personal, what job we do impacts it heavily.

70% of employees surveyed by McKinsey agreed that they define their purpose around work.

Moreover, as we move toward the frontline workers and away from the managers, another stark contrast is revealed: about 85% of frontline workers are unsure or strongly disagree that they can derive purpose from their work. For you, it means that your team is likely to need a sense of purpose for fulfilment much more than you feel the need in your case.

The purpose at work plays a crucial role in employee motivation and engagement, too. The survey revealed that those with little purpose being met at work rated lower in terms of satisfaction and performance, too. When employees have a clear sense of purpose, their work becomes more than just a means to a pay check. Overall, creating a purpose at work helps you:

  • Create personal attachment to work: Work becomes a meaningful endeavor that aligns with their personal values and aspirations. As a result, employees start working with intrinsic motivation, which is the internal drive to perform a task for its own sake rather than for external rewards. 
  •  Build passion and ownership: When employees are intrinsically motivated, they are more likely to be passionate, dedicated, and committed to their work. They go above and beyond, putting in extra effort and taking initiative to achieve shared goals.
  •  Promote the team objectives: Purpose provides employees with a sense of direction and meaning in their work. It helps them understand how their contributions fit into the larger picture and how they are making a positive impact.
  •  Enhance job satisfaction: Purposeful work enhances employee well-being and resilience. When employees have a sense of purpose, they are more likely to experience greater job satisfaction, lower stress levels, and better mental health. The stronger sense of direction and focus allows them to navigate challenges and setbacks more effectively.
Leadership plays a critical role in cultivating purpose within an organization. As individuals in leadership positions, it is our responsibility to set the tone, communicate the organizational purpose, and embody the purpose ourselves. But there’s more to it.

Start at the top 

As leaders or managers, the first thing that we can do quite well is define and deliberate on the purpose of our organization or team. If you are confused, here’s a place to start with these five questions:

Answering these five questions will help you clarify the purpose of your team. This is where everything roots from, and that’s where every individual feels connected in a shared effort. As a manager, take up initiatives and think about purpose along with your team. While doing so, McKinsey points to a relevant bit: it’s not just about using purpose as a talking point and sending fancy emails about it; you really need to get down and see how it’s working. Think about how the purpose defines you each day, and if you see a gap, start acting.

In addition to communication, leaders should embody purpose themselves. They should align their actions and decisions with the purpose, leading by example. When employees see their leaders living the purpose, it inspires them to do the same.

Creating alignment between company goals and individual aspirations

Employees are more likely to find meaning in their work when they see a clear connection between their own goals and the goals of the organization. To do this, the employees first need to know and see the purpose of the work in action. 

Here, you can step in as the manager and start talking about culture regularly, give them opportunities to discuss how the team’s purpose is impacting and reflect on those ideas. As per McKinsey, chances like these enable employees to find and fulfill their purpose at work 3x more! 

Next up, leaders should work with each team member to align their individual goals and priorities with the company’s overall purpose. This alignment ensures that individuals understand the impact of their work on the organization’s mission. Regularly connecting individual goals to the organizational purpose emphasizes how their contributions are integral to achieving the shared vision.

Establish a Purpose-Driven Culture

Establishing a purpose-driven culture requires practical steps that foster a work environment where employees feel motivated, engaged, and connected to the organization’s purpose.

First, organizations should foster a supportive and inclusive work environment. This involves promoting open communication, collaboration, and respect among employees. It also means providing opportunities for employees to contribute their unique skills and perspectives.

Second, organizations should encourage autonomy and provide growth opportunities for employees. Empowering employees to make decisions and giving them the freedom to explore innovative ideas enhances their sense of purpose and ownership in their work. Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth helps employees align their individual aspirations with the organization’s purpose.

Lastly, organizations should recognize and celebrate purposeful achievements. Acknowledging employees’ contributions reinforces the importance of purpose and motivates others to align their work with the organization’s mission. Celebrating success creates a positive and energizing work environment that fosters purpose and engagement.

There are various tools and exercises that managers can use to help employees uncover their personal purpose. These tools and exercises provide employees with the opportunity to reflect on their values, passions, and aspirations, enabling them to align their personal purpose with their professional roles. Here are some ideas you can use to help your team find purpose at work:

  • Personal vision exercises: Encourage employees to create a personal vision statement that reflects their values, goals, and aspirations.
  • Strengths assessments: Provide employees with assessments that help them identify their unique strengths and talents, like Risely’s people management skill assessments.
  • Mentoring programs: Pair employees with mentors who can guide them in exploring their personal purpose and professional growth.
  • Goal-setting workshops: Facilitate workshops that help employees set meaningful goals aligned with their personal purpose.
In conclusion, fostering a sense of purpose at work is pivotal for employee motivation and engagement. It significantly influences job satisfaction, performance, and overall well-being. Effective leadership plays a crucial role in cultivating a purpose-driven culture by aligning company goals with individual aspirations. Encouraging autonomy, growth opportunities, and meaningful tasks can further enhance employee engagement.

By recognizing and celebrating purposeful achievements, organizations can bolster their workforce’s morale and productivity. Embracing a supportive and inclusive environment where personal purposes are integrated into professional roles can lead to a more fulfilling and successful workplace for all.

Struggling with purpose? Embrace a growth mindset.

Grab a free copy of Risely’s growth mindset toolkit for managers and leaders today to get started.

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