The nature of work is changing, and it’s changing quickly. It used to be that most people were happy to get a job and use that job as a means to an end – an income that paid the way for the life they wanted. Now, a “job” isn’t enough for most people, particularly younger generations. Millennials and Gen Z are looking not just for income but for purpose – for the sense that they are contributing something meaningful to the world or having a positive impact in some way.
That isn’t to say that altruism is the top value of every Millennial. The workplace success that younger generations seek can also come in the form of attaining a certain level of distinction, delivering a genuinely better product than the competition, or otherwise being “the best” in some respect.
Thus, “purpose” can have many definitions to different sets of employees, but what truly matters is that people today want to work at companies that have a defined purpose.
Purpose – a mission of some sort, something that your company stands for – is what differentiates your business from your competition, and your employees want to know what that purpose is.
According to Gallup, 71% of Millennials that know what their company stands for, are expected to stay with that company for at least the next year. Notice that these workers aren’t necessarily looking for one particular type of purpose. Rather, when a worker knows what a company stands for going in, they can better decide whether it’s a company they want to work for. When people know that their individual work is contributing to a greater whole, that knowledge creates a deep sense of dedication and motivation.
On the flip side, only 30% of Millennials who strongly disagree with the statement that they know what their company stands for are likely to stay on for another year. Put another way, lack of purpose leads to turnover.
As we begin a new year and a new decade, take this opportunity to seriously question what makes your company unique from your competition. The answer, at the moment, may be very little or nothing at all. If that’s the case, be honest about it, and take the necessary steps to implement meaningful change. Find out what matters to your employees, to your leaders, to your customers, and give the people what they want. Don’t simply write a mission statement or a list of company values and post them on your website. This year, put your mission into action.