A Formula for Instilling Purpose and Passion

Corporate Purpose + Individual Choice = Collective Passion

Here’s a quick peek at something tangible that really works:  The formula above is the focus for a paper I recently co-authored with the team from Co.tribute, a platform empowering businesses, employees, and clients to connect their work to the social causes they care about most.  The paper will be published soon on their website, but in the meantime, here is an early look.

Employees today need inspiration – but how do companies do so today? Management isn’t conducted the same way it has been in the past. Research shows that workplace dynamics are very different from only a decade ago:

  • 50% of today’s workforce hold jobs that contain at least partial telework.
  • Working from home has increased by 103% since 2005.
  • 45% of younger employees would accept a lower-paying job if it had more flexibility than a higher paying job with less flexibility.

The workforce has changed, and as a result, how leaders motivate their teams must change as well.  The latest research reveals that purpose and passion matter most, even more than financial rewards. 

Best-selling author Daniel Pink explains that the strongest motivator for employees is purposeful work done with a connected team, combined with the individual ability to make meaningful decisions.

So how can companies help their employees connect with their company’s purpose and their individual passion through work?

New Research on Corporate Philanthropy and Purpose

Co.tribute researched companies recognized as the “Best Places to Work” across the U.S., conducting 80 in-depth interviews and analyzing records of philanthropic behaviors of thousands of employees with questions like:

  • What are common characteristics of successful companies?
  • What vision do the leaders of these organizations have for their businesses?
  • What practical methods and strategies do these leaders implement to motivate employees?
  • What is their approach to corporate philanthropy and volunteering?

One major point found through all of this study? 

Successful organizations give back to the community, and they make sure that their employees play an important, independent role in the process. 

While the majority of companies today have philanthropic initiatives in place to engage their employees, most have not tapped into the most powerful drivers for motivation. And they have not connected corporate philanthropy with purpose or individual choice

For example, 40% of the organizations interviewed have a defined giving program, but 70% of the companies donate solely through the CEO or founder and do not allow employees a choice in where funds are sent.

Involving employees in more meaningful decisions like these will make employees more productive and willing to contribute to the organization whole-heartedly. These research findings underscore what Pink says. “There is a mis-match between what science knows and business does.”

Take Action: Sharpen Your Strategy

So how can you sharpen your strategy around philanthropy, individual purpose, and motivation at your company?  

We outlined three areas for action: 

  1. Take Traditional Volunteering to the Next Level – Employer-supported volunteer programs are valuable ways to engage employees, cultivate relationships, and give back. Demonstrating a commitment to helping others, displays the values that make your company unique.
  2. Incentivize Employees in Creative Ways – Allowing employees to choose how they want to contribute their time gives them more ownership of their experience and allows them to pursue opportunities that are especially meaningful to them.
  3. Implement Employee-Directed Giving with an Emphasis on Impact – Empower employees to take ownership of philanthropic results through more structured programs and tools.

So consider how well your philanthropic initiatives highlight purpose and impact. Make sure your programs include plenty of opportunities for team members to see what their contributions are being used for. Make these individual stories visible and accessible across your organization.

The new workforce dynamics combined with new technologies and tools create exciting new opportunities for companies. With careful attention to our employees’ needs and motivations, we can reach new levels of passion, purpose, and impact at our organizations. 

Is your organization considering the links between corporate philanthropy and employee engagement? If you want to learn more, contact me for a complimentary assessment so you can see where you are on the Corporate Philanthropy Continuum.

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