2. ‘PURPOSE’ IS CLEAR AND RELEVANT TO ALL
Purpose-driven work often starts with a small group of people pushing for change. If other employees do not understand this work, it creates a gap between the purpose vision and the tasks these small groups can perform.
Putting purpose into practice requires making it clear and relevant to all organisational roles. Often, this means creating incentives for collaboration beyond specific mandates and departments.
For example, if you’re a designer that creates sustainable product packaging, you’ll feel your work has less impact if the product is still shipped to customers in massive boxes cushioned with polystyrene.
Research also shows it can be easier to achieve purpose-driven aims when the groups pushing for change within an organisation intentionally include workers across gender and race, as well as people from different occupations and levels of the organisation.
3. YOU ARE SHOWN THE IMPACT OF YOUR WORK
Pursuing purpose is challenging because impact takes time and is often invisible. Even if your work embeds purpose at its core — if you work for a social enterprise or an animal shelter — you may not always see the full picture of how what you do makes a difference. This can make you question your impact.
To address this challenge, organisations need to provide employees with opportunities to see the impact of their work. This can include sharing reports or case studies with the rest of the organisation, or facilitating feedback conversations with the people who benefit from your work.
4. PURPOSE GOES BEYOND THE BUSINESS CASE
Purpose-driven work is often justified through a business case for how the work can benefit the organisation, either in terms of recruiting and keeping talent or the bottom line.
But if this is the predominant justification for purpose in organisations, you may feel disconnected from your values, which could limit your action over time.
Purpose does not require organisations to shy away from the business case, but to redefine what counts as doing business. For example, British furniture maker Vitsoe’s approach to selling actively encourages consumers to buy less by creating adaptable and durable products.