Considering a move to another company or taking that first step in your career is not only about the financial package, the principles and purpose of the potential new employer matter too.

Many job seekers want to know what a company represents, the projects it’s involved with, how it treats employees, what its values are and how it makes a positive difference. This social awareness, led in many respects by the talented people who will become tomorrow’s leaders, is an important consideration for employers.

The significance of purpose as something companies need to take seriously is gaining traction in the northeast as employers grapple with labour costs fuelled by a shortage of skilled people.

One of the reasons behind the demand for marketing and communications professionals over the last year or so has been the organisational focus on storytelling, sharing employee experiences, illustrating differentiators, and highlighting culture. Communicating an organisation’s purpose is part of every leader’s remit and it’s more than just about creating a feel-good factor in the workforce. It’s about retaining your talent because they have pride in the company they work for and attracting new talent who want to work for you because they recognise that the company is committed to making a difference.

The growing recognition that companies have responsibilities beyond making a profit and lucrative shareholder returns has seen an increasing number of global companies take steps to put in place what could become a fast-emerging role for the future – that of Chief Purpose Officer (CPO).

A CPO is responsible for setting out what a company’s purpose is, where it stands on societal issues and its commitment to developing programmes and opportunities that will benefit their communities. They also manage the overlap between a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) credentials and work closely with teams which lead on diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and environmental strategies to ensure that the company’s values and purpose are consistent across all areas.

In most SME businesses this work is fulfilled by managers – and is one of the reasons driving demand for leaders with effective soft skills because conveying purpose effectively requires collaboration, emotional intelligence, authenticity and realism. Poorly executed, the messaging can be perceived as disingenuous, with employers even accused of value washing.

Pay will always be a significant motivator for job seekers, but it’s not the only motivator. People want to spend their time in meaningful ways, knowing they are valued and that the work they do is valued. We see this every day, talking with candidates who become animated when they understand the nature of an employer’s technology, innovation, challenging work, or team dynamic.

Research by the Great Place To Work® indicates these questions will predict workplace turnover, regardless of age or job type:

  1. Are you proud of where you work?
  2. Do you find meaning in your work?
  3. Do you have fun at work?

If an employee answers “no” to any of those questions, they’re possibly dissatisfied enough to want to leave. Here’s a challenge for you – ask these questions to your employees. Their answers could change how you view your organisation’s purpose and how you motivate and engage your teams.

Ultimately having a clear sense of purpose which helps employees understand the value of their work and the importance of their endeavours, is good for your people, good for your company and good for your business.