It’s no secret that employees and leaders see the importance of purpose in business. What does it really mean to bring purpose to life for employees, and why does it matter for the business? In a time of heightened stakeholder expectations, business leaders are rightly concerned with how purpose can boost innovation and brand value—for them, the value lies in illuminating purpose on the commercial side of the business. But it should be much deeper than that. In PwC’s report, Putting Purpose to Work: a study of purpose in the workplace, we explore how leaders can approach purpose more holistically in order to optimize value for employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders
At the leadership level, there is a sizable disconnect between how important purpose is claimed to be for business and how central purpose actually is to business decisions. This gap demonstrates the optimism and promise that leaders see in being purpose-driven to elevate business, but a hesitation to “walk-the-walk” and actively embed it into foundational elements of the company, such as organizational decision architecture.
While business leaders prioritize the commercial value of purpose, employees see purpose as a way to bring meaning to their work and understand the contributions they are making to the company, as well as society. And, employees need to find this meaning in their daily work in order to be fully engaged. But few business leaders guide supervisors to have conversations with their teams about why their works matters.
Leaders readily appreciate the myriad of benefits that greater engagement can bring--both culturally and commercially-- but don’t prioritize purpose as a means to amplifying this.