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Why a new generation of workers desire to ‘Work with Purpose’

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With every new generation that enters the workforce, they bring with them new demands and desires around what is expected from work, and it can be challenging for companies to keep up. When it comes to companies reaching out and attracting top talents from this new batch of workers, employers need to truly understand the core values of what people want when they work. For many Gen Z and Millennial workers, to really be ‘at home’ in the workplace they need to feel that the work they are doing is creating a positive impact that matches with their core values and philosophies. Likewise, it is important that employers respect these values and are dedicated to providing the tools needed to help people succeed in their professional and personal life.

A recent Global Talents Trends study by Mercer showed that many employees feel this is lacking, and also uncovered three core assets that all employees need: workplace flexibility, a commitment to health, and importantly the sense that they are working with a purpose. This desire to create beneficial work that has an impact cannot be underrated, and a growing number of employees express that they are willing to give up flashy benefits in order to pursue fulfilling jobs.

This could be seen for example in a young science graduate entering the workforce deciding to join an NGO fighting for environmental action instead of taking a position at an energy company, or a person choosing to go to a startup that works towards a socially conscious cause over a more corporate path. The benefits for employees aren’t just philosophical, according to Mercer’s report, purpose-driven workers show greater productivity, job satisfaction, and motivation. Employees also report that they are three times as likely to work for a company that demonstrates strong values that have a positive impact.

What does this mean for employers? There is clearly a real and measurable impact in standing up for and following through on your values. Not only will employees be more motivated, but more talent will be drawn to the organization. In order to strengthen this message, employers can take some fundamental steps to make sure their values and ‘purpose’ are more clearly articulated:

Create a clear company vision – A vision should communicate not just what a company does, but also its purpose, and underline a clear mission for how the work contributes to the betterment of the world in a straightforward and understandable way. Highlighting this point, 74% of Gen Z employees value purpose ahead of a paycheck and therefore, companies looking  to retain younger talent need to ensure their vision aligns with this new cohort’s desire for purpose.

Always work towards authenticity – Purpose isn’t simply a framework that can be placed on top of a company’s existing practices. Treating purpose as a simple slogan or mantra will always ring hollow and recognizably inauthentic. Purpose-driven organizations need to regularly interrogate their actions according to the core company missions and visions and find ways to follow through on it. Given that 90% of Millennials denote “authenticity” as a key factor when deciding whether to support a brand or not, companies can imagine how important this value becomes to younger people when deciding where to work.

Let employees know the impact of their work – Often impact can get obscured by busy work or tunnel vision, but it is important to take a step back and make sure employees understand the bigger picture, and the true effect that their work is having. Similarly to how millennials and Gen Z “run on push notifications” in their social lives, they also require prompt and daily feedback in the workplace, so they can affirm that they’re doing a good job. A constant reminder of the ‘why’ behind the work they do is crucial to long term productivity.

Encourage employees to grow in and out of the office – A well-rounded employee brings more to their work than just their applicable skills on paper. If they are drawn to the vision of the company, that means it resonates with a core passion or interest of theirs, which employers should go out of their way to help flourish. Allowing employees to engage on issues or with the community around these topics will encourage ongoing growth. Over 50% of respondents to a recent LinkedIn survey stated that feeling comfortable “with being myself at work” was a key factor to feeling a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Expose your team to purpose-driven environments – Gen Z, and to an extent younger Millennials, are social creatures who look to their workplaces to offer inspiration and interactions with a diverse group of peers. 70% of Gen Z workers say that working with colleagues of different ages and background is important to them. Co-working spaces have become an important nexus for purpose-driven organizations, offering community-oriented and collaborative environments that help foster positive workplace culture, wellbeing, and flexibility. In order to leverage these values and energize young workers who are keen to make an impact, more and more companies are looking to flexible office spaces to provide solutions that resonate with the workforces of tomorrow.

Collaboration and networking lay at the very core of coworking spaces, they’re intrinsically a breeding ground for diverse business relationships.

Share success stories – Ensure that success stories are understood and shared for employees to have a clear idea of what success looks like according to the company’s vision. When all employees have a clear understanding of this idea, it becomes easier for people to work together and be driven towards a common goal. Teams that are highly engaged and have clear a direction show, on average, 21% more profitability and 59% less turnover.

Keeping up with the desires of your workforce can be challenging – no one will argue with that. However, identifying employees’ wants and desires will greatly benefit your company and the bottom line. With a new generation of younger employees entering and shaping the trends of the workforce, it is becoming clear that companies need to be strong and clear about articulating their purposes in order to attract talents, and define what they stand for in a new, purpose-driven economy.

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