Finally! We have some research that actually quantifies the importance of purpose. Taken from a recent survey of more than 6,300 adult age, full-time employed, U.S. workers in a wide range of industries and job types, the 2015 Workforce Purpose Index shows that 28% of U.S. workers define, “the role of work in their lives as a source of personal fulfillment and a way to help others.” Seventy-two percent indicated in the study that work is just a means to an end.
This is important, I believe, because purpose-driven employees bring more value to their work. The study indicates that purpose-oriented workers stay 20% longer at companies are 50% more likely to be in leadership positions, 47% more likely to be promoters of their employers, and have 64% higher levels of fulfillment in their work. They also have stronger relationships with their coworkers; they believe their work makes an impact; and they are more likely to grow personally and professionally.
It’s also important because purpose-oriented employers attract purpose-oriented workers. So the fastest way to having higher-performing teams is for leadership to infuse purpose into every aspect of their companies’ activities.
This research quantifies what we already thought was true. There have always been two camps in the work arena; and each has its place.
Camp I is the 28% who define the role of work in their lives as a primary source of fulfillment. Because of that guide, they tend to work longer hours and often take that work home in terms of thinking about it and/or actual homework.
Camp II is the 72% who feel work is a means to an end—“it’s only a job.” They try to leave work at the office, occasionally think about it or bring some work home, but it’s the exception.
If there was only one camp, the workplace would probably cease to function. The percentages in each camp are likely right, but aren’t there any undecided?
All this is important for several reasons. The 28% who find purpose in their work and invest themselves heavily in trying to do better are the wellspring of entrepreneurs. They may or may not follow that path to starting or buying a new business, but they have the core element in entrepreneurial skills.
But what about Camp II? Where do they find fulfillment , the purpose in their lives? Some may find it in family; some in serving others through church or charitable work. Perhaps some find it in their avocation; i.e., hobbies, sports, recreation activities. Unfortunately, some part of the 72% may not find it at all, and that’s really sad!
Although I have no research to back this up, I’m fairly certain Camp I people are also type A personalities whereas Camp II people are more mellow and fall below the alphabet designations somewhere.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this difference in work purpose is what happens when a relationship develops between partners from different camps. Will each be comfortable and understand, tolerate and allow the others’ operational mode to flourish?
As long as the Camp II partner is willing to be there when Camp I decides to come home and interact, I think it has a good chance to work.
How about a relationship with two Camp I type A personalities? That’s a tricky one and hard to predict. It will depend on the maturity level of both parties and the willingness to make some compromises, because, sooner or later, compromises will have to be made or there will be an explosion.
This blog was inspired first by a dinner conversation with a Camp II friend one evening and then by Glenn Geffeken and his wife Maria’s separate blogs on the subject of passion.
I believe “purpose” and “passion” are conjoined twins. They feed on each other and go a long way to creating fulfillment.
In her blog, Maria said, “I have been on a winding road, making stops, staying for awhile, then leaving because I did not have a passion. I felt as if I missed out on the day when passion was being handed out.
“I have felt very discouraged at times, and even paralyzed, by my doubt and fear that I have no passion, and therefore nothing to offer. So I have remained hidden and silent until somehow the passion-giving guru comes back around and I won’t miss my opportunity to receive it this time.”
In my personal experience in hiring, I always tried to find if the person I was interviewing had a passion…about anything. I felt this might translate to their finding “purpose” in our activities. Some did, some didn’t.
(Maria can be reached at Maria@balancedis.com)