Every business enters the battle for top talent, whether you
are fighting to recruit recent grads or top senior manage-ment.
It’s not easy for anyone when trends are showing
widespread talent and skill shortages across generations
and around the globe. Employees clearly have the luxury of
mobility and choice. In this arena, how do you win the best?
As we show in our forthcoming book, The Purpose Revolution:
How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in
an Age of Social Good, employees are drawn to companies with
a clear and authentic purpose. Eighty-five per cent of North
American employees said they will stay longer with an employer
with a high level of social responsibility and a U.K. report
shows that 42 per cent of employees globally say it matters
to them to work for a company that is making a positive
difference in society. For Millennials, 60 per cent said
they choose a sense of purpose as part of the reason
they work for a company and Gallup reports that a full
50 per cent of Millennials say they would take a pay
cut to work for a company with purpose. A LinkedIn
study shows that about 37 per cent of the global work-force
is now purpose-focused – meaning it is a major
driver of their engagement and retention.
At this era when employees are focused on social
good and purpose, here are four practices to help you
win the war for top talent.
SHOWCASE PURPOSE FROM THE START
Use the application and interview processes to show candidates
that purpose is front and centre in your company. Clearly fea-ture
your values and purpose in your communications. Make
sure that the job descriptions you post speak directly to the
values of the people you’re trying to attract in today’s evolving
market. Don’t just include the duties, requirements and respon-sibilities
of the position; describe your company’s story, its
ethos and how its purpose ties to your team members’ values
and goals. Be bold and highlight how your mission is integral to
every aspect of the company and culture.
During the interview, ask prospects what their life purpose
is, what they want to contribute, what their deepest values are
and what issues they care most about. In turn, share your per-sonal
purpose and how it is realized through your work in the
company. Purpose-focused employees perform better on almost
every metric we care about from productivity to engagement
(they even call in sick less often), so finding out how purpose-focused
someone is before you hire them is a good idea.
BUILD PURPOSE INTO RECRUITING
In the book, we show lots of great strategies to build purpose
into your recruiting and onboarding. One of the best ways to
start is to write job descriptions for recruiting that focus on pur-pose
and what the job is meant to accomplish rather than the
tasks. A large furniture retailer did that very thing and while
they had a decrease of 40 per cent in terms of applicants, they
had a 30 per cent increase in the number of qualified candidates.
Focus on job purpose, not function, in your recruiting efforts.
Another winning idea is to have short videos of current employ-ees
talking about how they have found purpose in their work in
your organization – make them real and not scripted.
TRAIN MANAGERS TO LEAD PURPOSE
In a global study of CEOs by Harvard, two-thirds felt their
leaders were not well equipped to lead purpose. Most leaders
have had no training in how to instill or coach purpose. Leaders
need to learn some key skills that include identifying their own
purpose and communicating it regularly, coaching team mem-bers
to identify their own purpose, discovering how to get their
teams to identify team purpose and discovering how to regularly
see the difference they are making.
One of the key skills is learning to drive job purpose ver-sus
job function. A great example is one of the most successful
franchisees for Molly Maid who regularly communicates the
purpose of the maids’ job as “giving the gift of time to busy peo-ple”
and “alleviating loneliness” for elderly clients. She reinforces
this by regularly bringing clients and family members into staff
meetings to talk about the real difference the work makes.
AUDIT YOUR COMMUNICATION
One final thing is to begin to audit communication in your
organization. As you sit in meetings, listen to leaders commu-nicate
and examine your corporate internal communication
– what percentage is focused on profits (and task) versus
purpose and the real difference you are making for customers
and society? We coached a CEO of a major company whose
communication was about 90 per cent task and numbers. By
helping her transition to a growing focus on purpose and con-tribution,
engagement and commitment grew alongside her
personal brand with employees.
THE PURPOSE REVOLUTION CUTS
The desire for purpose cuts across generation and geography.
While every generation cares about purpose, it turns out that
the two most purpose-focused generations are Millennials
and Baby Boomers. The first likely comes as little surprise
to HR leaders, but many are intrigued by the later. It turns
out that many “Boomers” towards the end of their career are
focused on how to contribute more before their careers end. In
the book, we share numerous examples of the best and bright-est
Boomers being wooed, often at pay cuts because of a desire
for purpose. n
John Izzo, Ph.D., is president of Izzo Associates. Jeff Vanderwielen,
Ph.D., is vice president of consulting at Izzo Associates.
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ MARCH 2018 ❚ 27