Close the purpose gap for your employees – to retain talent

Employees expect that their work brings them a sense of purpose. Therefore, organisations need to actively help meet this need or make preparations that their employees may seek an employer who will.

What emphasis is your management team placing on purpose alignment, employee wellbeing and people development? Employees evaluate how their employers deliver on purpose – at an organisation, group and, more importantly, at an individual level. Research suggests that 70% of employees say their work defines their sense of purpose.

Benefits of Purpose at Work

Modern employers must act as agents of purpose, learning and change to retain their employees. Employees who say they live their purpose at work are:

• 6.5 times more likely to report higher resilience 

• 4 times more likely to report better wellbeing

• 6 times more likely to want to stay at the organisation and

• 1.5 times more likely to go above and beyond to make their organisation successful.

Purposeful employees are more innovative and adaptive.

Work plays a pivotal role in an employee’s purpose. Your organisation can become a better place to work with improved talent retention if you can unlock the potential of purposeful employees aligned to a purpose-driven organisational culture.

Purpose is when employees strive toward something meaningful to them. Purpose fuels energy and flow. Like people are unique and evolving, so is purpose. Purpose is not a single vocation or a permanent state of being. Nor can it be understood as an employer only through a one size fits all controlled surface approach. Instead, we need to use employee development principles and our influencing capabilities to connect with purpose in others.

The purpose derived from work connects to an employee’s passions, strengths and contributions.


Good employers aim to target how their work maximises a person’s passions, strengths and contributions to expand that for the individual employee. Your organisation can also continue to invest in adding value to the employee experience and the changing nature of work. This approach will genuinely influence employee retention.

Learn what people want, and then be curious to learn if they are getting it. Then, work with your employees to close the purpose gap.

How can you start taking action?

1. Revisit the organisation’s purpose

It isn’t significant to employees if your organisational purpose is simply a poster on a wall or not followed through and lived. So often, I chat with teams, and they cannot articulate the organisation’s purpose. Make purpose and measurement a part of daily team conversations. Make it a dialogue to generate buy-in and connection. Spot problems early, and take action to resolve them. Share stories of the purpose impact made with and by the team.

2. Reflect, connect and rise together

Make connecting with purpose a habit in your people development via leadership workshops and storytelling sessions. Encourage employees to reflect on their sense of purpose, and understand what energisers them and how it aligns with the organisation’s purpose.

3. Find opportunities for purpose in the day-to-day work

You might consider having team huddles or immersive small group sessions to encourage employees to ask questions and share ideas about how to define, connect and fulfil their purpose at work. Creating space for the small things to become purposeful can gain momentum for better work experiences – and more inclusive work environments – for everyone.

4. Be honest about your employee environment

Ask yourself:  Is my team comfortable sharing and providing feedback with others? Is the psychological safety low within the team or organisation? How onboard are the leaders and managers to nurture a purpose in their direct reports and themselves? Employees are unlikely to say their purpose is fulfilled at work if low psychological safety is present.

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