Is purpose more important than a pay cheque

by Jenny Bowes | Jul 08, 2021

time icon 3 mins

Is understanding your purpose at work more important than simply collecting a pay cheque? Research shows that more of the workforce, especially younger employees who are starting out in the world of work, are valuing a sense of purpose rather than simply the pounds or dollars in their bank at the end of the month. 

There’s a somewhat crazy stat which says that 9 out of 10 people would take less money for more purpose in their work. That’s quite a shocking number when you think about it, but it also makes sense as we spend more and more time at work and the lines between work and home life have been blurred, especially during the last 12 – 18 months. But are we seeing a wider tidal wave of employees pushing back on elements of work and organisations they don’t agree with? Here’s a couple of examples:

  • A third of Basecamp employees quit – the company was thrown into turmoil when it announced that “societal and political discussions” would no longer be allowed on the company’s internal chat forums. The CEO said the decision stemmed from the fact that “today’s social and political waters are especially choppy,” and that internal discussions of those issues was “not healthy” and “hasn’t served us well.”
  • Hostile working environments for women and ethnic minorities have been created over time and this is being challenged now more than ever before. 
  • What is the place of business across the world? ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing has become a very important topic. Organisations are understanding the importance of this and there have even been legal judgements on how organisations do business and their impact on the world. 
  • In 2019, 181 CEO’s came together to sign a letter and pledge that their businesses need to do more than simply make a profit – highlighting a real change in thinking from the top. 

There are a lot more examples we could draw on but these stories point to a shift in thinking: How do you provide this purpose and foster a healthy workplace culture that employees want to be part of? Should an organisational purpose have focus beyond revenue and the bottom line? We spoke to Koan CEO Matt Tucker about his thoughts on this very subject. 

Why are we thinking about this shift to purposeful business? 

Is this a shift that has slowly been creeping up on us, or have recent events intensified this shift. Matt thinks it ultimately comes down to two things:

  • The last 12 – 18 months have changed the way we work. Our relationship with work is just different now. So, rather than return to the normal of before, let’s create an environment where we have a healthier culture, we value employees and their opinions and we have a wider impact on our employees and the society around us. 
  • There are some big problems in the world, such as climate change and social justice, and we can only really solve these problems if businesses are part of the solutions. In some cases businesses are more influential than governing parties and so they need to be involved in the solutions. 

So, how do you foster an environment of purposeful working? This is where communication, reflection and inclusivity can ultimately help.

Continue your exploration of this topic by listening to S6 E3 of Giant Talk, where we delve into what it takes to create an environment where people understand their purpose, and how psychological safety plays an imperative role in fostering an environment of purposeful working. We also chat about what gives Koan CEO Matt purpose on a day to day basis. 

Catch the conversation here.

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