Exploring the Connection Between Purpose at Work and Employee Retention

Exploring the Connection Between Purpose at Work and Employee Retention

Do your employees know their purpose at work?  

As we approach the end of 2022, many experts and analysts are sadly pointing out that the “Great Resignation” is not yet over. A recent survey published by the World Economic Forum revealed that 20 percent of employees still plan to quit their jobs this year.  

This massive resignation of a record number of workers is already about to enter its third year, with no signs of any letup. Many of those planning to quit are seeking higher salaries or more flexible work arrangements. Still, a great majority of them, two-thirds to be exact, plan to leave because they are looking for more fulfillment in the workplace.  

As employers, what does this tell you?  

The truth is that money in itself is not enough to retain your company’s top talents. There are intangible factors in the workplace that are as important to employees as salaries and financial rewards.  One’s paycheck cannot solely measure job fulfillment.  

Many of these employees – your employees – seek meaning and a sense of purpose in their jobs.  


Purpose at Work and Employee Retention Rate 

Knowing their purpose at work is when your employees can connect their work to your company’s purpose and their own life. Calling it the “big picture” may be cliché, but it is pretty accurate.  

Employees, regardless of whether they are entry-level or C-suite, struggle to stay in their jobs when they can’t find answers to questions such as “Why am I doing the work that I’m doing for this company?” or “How does my work here in the organization matter?”  

Employers and business leaders should know that these questions are valid. You cannot shortcut your way to addressing these questions by giving a salary hike or additional perks to your people. You have to approach and tackle the question head-on.  

As employers and hiring managers, it is YOUR responsibility to help your employees create a sense of purpose at work. If you want your employees to care about their work, you must help them find BOTH a professional purpose and a personal purpose for their jobs.  

Jobs that have a purpose for your employees have high retention rates. Ultimately, this is what will make them stay.  


Why a Purpose-Driven Workplace Wins

1. Employee engagement levels rise.

A McKinsey published study reported employees who fail to find purpose at work are less engaged and less motivated. These less satisfied employees reported lower average work and life outcomes than their more satisfied peers. The former translates to a reduced feeling of energy at work as well as low engagement and level of satisfaction. People who fall into this category are prone to be casualties of “The Great Resignation.”  

Naturally, when employees are less engaged, they are also less productive. Therefore, on the flip side, employees become more productive and engaged when they have a sense of purpose at work.


2. Employees take growth and personal development more seriously.

Employees who know why their work matters are determined to improve and do better continually. A study from Gartner also revealed that employees tend to seek more opportunities to reskill, upskill, and be mentored. Especially if they belong to the top talents in your company, it is indeed a win-win situation.  

More importantly, it pushes employers and hiring managers to promote excellence by consistently investing in employee growth and sustainability. 


3. Employees are encouraged to bring out their authentic selves in the workplace.

Employees who clearly understand their purpose at work ultimately become more human and more humane. They become less transactional and more relational. People at work also tend to feel more connected to them, and they often work excellently with team members for the greater good.  

Imagine a work environment where the employee experience is one where they are encouraged to be who they are. Research shows that employees who report to work in their authentic selves lead to better retention and increased productivity.  


How to Create a Sense of Purpose at Work 

Now that you know that what employees value the most is a sense of purpose at work, here are some handles that are pertinent for you as an employer or as a hiring manager. These will support you in creating a workplace where your employees are attuned with their sense of purpose.

1. Be clear with the company direction and your expectations.

Researchers from the Harvard Business School discovered that organizations whose employees feel a sense of purpose at work attribute this to their leaders who have been transparent with them since Day 1 insofar as the company’s direction and expectations are concerned.  

Yes, purpose and clarity go hand in hand. The same study shows that companies with clear and transparent leadership to their employees outperform organizations that are not by 6.9 percent in the stock market. 


2. Empower your middle managers. 

The same Harvard Business School study recommends that top management empowers their middle managers to be more transparent and purposeful to the rest of the employees.  

Middle managers play a crucial role in instilling purpose at work because they interact with employees regularly–much more so than anyone in the company’s C-suite.  

Middle managers also access two lines of communication: upward communication and downward communication. Essentially, they serve as influential messengers in the company. Empower and guide them to start programs that sharpen purpose at work, such as mentoring, employee recognition, and appreciation projects, as well as upskilling and reskilling opportunities. 


3. Reflect and connect.

Make it a habit to give your employees a chance to do some quiet time to reflect and assess their own sense of purpose and how it connects to the company’s purpose. Workshops and storytelling sessions in the workplace are excellent avenues for this. However, for this to be successful, managers in the C-suite should also be able to participate in these sessions. There is wisdom in showing your vulnerable side now and then. 


4. Communicate and reward behavior that exemplifies the company’s values. 

How do employees find out how well they are doing? You need to let them know yourself!  

Make your employee recognition and appreciation programs a regular thing. Better yet, make these programs memorable and something your employees look forward to.  

This is highly beneficial for your employees and the company because you highlight the values worth emulating within the organization. By doing so, you are also giving your employees a chance to reflect if these values are something they should also personally aspire to achieve in their careers. 


5. Practice active listening–all the time. 

To be an active listener is to give your full attention and consideration to your colleague. It demonstrates mutual respect and genuine empathy. This gives you a chance to capture important insight, relevant feedback, or a teachable moment in the workplace. Being an active listener also lets your employees know that what they are saying matters and that they matter.  



Reach out to Davis Companies today to be connected to a superb list of job candidates who can easily define their purpose at work. Experience the Davis way by meeting candidates that are more than. Willing to work with you. Contact us today! 

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