The Importance Of Purpose In Creating A Sense Of Belonging

As we continue to adapt to life post pandemic and what it means for the world of work, its clear from several commentaries that there are differing views on what it should look like.

The topic of virtual office working has been a hotly debated topic. What’s also clear from articles such as “The Great Resignation1 is that we can expect some turbulence. Employees coming through this period are evaluating whether they wish to continue employment with their incumbent employer or seek pastures new.  As many as one in twenty (4.7%) UK workers resigned from their role throughout the pandemic2.   Not a small number.

As we enter the next decade, data is telling us that we can expect a few things to occur. We have an aging workforce which will create a deficit in the working pool. We anticipate there will be skill shortages, and the next generation coming into the workplace are bringing a new level of expectation and a more defined set of preferences when it comes to how they wish to work. Knowing all of this, it isn’t a surprise therefore that the attraction and retention of talent has become a strategic imperative.

Which brings us to purpose. A reason for doing something, a reason for existence in some cases. For many, the decision to work in an organisation begins with purpose. Does the organisation align with my set of values, does it care about the things that I care about?

The topic of purpose featured on episode 5 “Delivering on your Purpose – Executing the Basic Fundamentals” of the Human Factor podcast series with special guest Harriet Green OBE and former Chairman & CEO, Asia Pacific at IBM.  During the podcast, Harriet shared her insights from a CEO perspective and how she created a purpose within organisations she led across multiple continents. Harriet said “It starts with your brand promise. A brand in essence is a commitment, a promise. A promise to all your stakeholders who own your business. If it’s a business, those in government, those in the organisation, your employees, your partners, and your clients.  That commitment and promise has to be absolutely evident, not just in the outcomes, but the product, the capabilities, the solutions and in all of the interactions with those inside the organisation.”

The subject of attracting and retaining great talent featured heavily in the conversation and Harriet had some clear words of warning and advice on this critical issue – “in terms of things like the great resignation, if you are not in position with an authentic, believable commitment, a powerful set of values that really drive diversity and inclusion that not only hires super people, but progresses and retains them, then you will lose that war for talent, and whether you’re a government organisation, or business, you lose the war for talent. You don’t have great people, then you certainly won’t have great clients, and that is the end of a business”.

As organisations wrestle with the retention challenge, it is becoming apparent that going back to the basics of “what your brand commitment and purpose are setting out to achieve” is clearly important to new employees. During the podcast, Harriet shared her belief that as we go through this “reset”, it does represent an opportunity for organisations to include their employees in revisiting/redesigning what the future employee value proposition should look like. She fundamentally believes that bringing together diverse teams to work on some of our most complex challenges will achieve great results.

In summary, the conversation with Harriet and her thoughts, especially around retaining talent and really being inclusive in terms of defining the future proposition, are going to be crucial to creating the climate and conditions where people want to join, want to stay and want to grow. Getting that right is without doubt a pre-requisite to employees then feeling as if they are in a place where they feel they belong.  As Harriet reinforced in the podcast “That sense of belonging needs to be anchored to an authentic, believable commitment, a powerful set of values that really drives diversity and inclusion”.

Listen to Delivering on your Purpose – Executing the Basic Fundamentals  – Episode 5 of the Human Factor podcast series by SAP with Harriet Green OBE.

 

 

1 The Great Resignation: How employers drove workers to quit, BBC

2 “Great Resignation” sweeps across UK job market, HR Review