02 Dec How to be a Great Employer: Have a clear purpose and values
“The sense of being part of something greater than yourself can lead to high levels of engagement, high levels of creativity and the willingness to partner across functional and product boundaries within a company, which are hugely powerful.”Rebecca Henderson, the John and Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard Business School.
Over the next few weeks I’m focusing on what exactly it is that makes a great employer. It’s one of the questions I get asked most and it’s a key factor when considering a new employment opportunity. You could ask a hundred people who has been the best employer that they’ve ever worked for, and I know that there would be a few key characteristics that come up time and time again. We’re going to explore a few of these and discuss why they are so important.
Firstly, to be a great employer you need to show strong leadership, and this comes from having a clear purpose and values. When working towards a common purpose, employees are more likely to have a healthier outlook on life and be more resilient to stress, as they have structure and clear goals to aim for.
Every organisation has, at some level a purpose. A reason for existing. The key point is how well they are able to communicate their purpose to their employees. This is important for a number of reasons, firstly, a recent survey has shown that employees who work for a “purpose driven” company are more engaged than those who don’t. Furthermore, this same survey went on to conclude that just over 90% of leaders at purpose-driven organisations felt their companies would strengthen or maintain their brand in the next 5-10 years, compared to just under half of their counterparts who don’t work for employers with a clear purpose.
Once upon a time it was easy to attract employees with buzzwords and a few nice gestures, but in today’s competitive employment market, potential employees want something more. They are looking for an employer whose values and purpose are allied with their own. They want to feel that they belong to something important, something greater than their individual existence and can contribute positively to society. I know from my years as a recruiter that it’s not just about talking the talk, employers need to be able to consistently demonstrate their values and purpose. Often businesses make the mistake of having strong values at leadership level only for them to be diluted further down the employee chain. The best employers I worked with were transparent in their processes, confident in employee feedback and not afraid to make changes that were for the benefit of their workforce and, ultimately, their business.
In fact, according to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 nearly 80 percent of young Millennials say they “would be more motivated and committed at work if they felt their employer made a positive impact on society.” It is increasingly important that employers feel that they can be proud of their employer and share in its purpose and values.
Having a well-defined and clearly articulated, common purpose, not only contributes to an engaged workforce, but is vital for recruiting and retaining the best employees.