Opinion: "The journey to build corporate purpose"
Employers and employees expect more, says Nicolas Mamier. A sense of purpose is crucial
Companies in every sector are recognising a changed dynamic in the employer/employee relationship. They have to get that relationship right if they are to unlock the performance they need to deliver commercial success.
Talent offers businesses the ability to innovate, collaborate, provide service to customers, build relationships with stakeholders and enhance performance. Talent, therefore, is one of the only real and lasting sources of distinct competitive advantage.
The employee contract has changed and it is on a more equal footing. The employer asks for, indeed needs, talent to be successful. Employers might be demanding high performance and delivery, but today, unlike any other time in history, except in periods of prolonged labour shortage due to world wars, the potential employee chooses to go and the employee chooses to stay.
Distrust, disappointment and plain old cynicism about corporate business is well documented as is the rise of transparency in the digital social media age. Peer experts and public review are now more important than authority figures for advice in travel (TripAdvisor), investment (Motley Fool), health (Patient.co.uk) and employment (Glassdoor).
Yet there are, as can be attested to by recruitment and talent management professionals in virtually all skilled sectors, other needs at work here; needs that go deeper, are more meaningful and will have a lasting impact on the foundation of the employer/employee relationship. Most companies are aware of changing trends. The employee value proposition (EVP) has been an HR mantra for over a decade now. It asked what value the company offers the employee, what’s the commitment, what do employees get if they choose to work or stay at the company? What’s the deal? What, in turn, do employers expect of the employee? What are the measures of success?
But now, companies need more and employees want more. The EVP may have combined hard (pay, position, promotion) and soft (values) aspects, but it does not answer the single most important driver for an increasing number of the best and the brightest that your company needs. What is your purpose? What do you stand for? How is that manifest in all and everything that the company does and how will the employee fit?
It is time to ask the hard questions and establish how the changing priorities of your precious talent can be aligned with the company values and how the company values in turn must reflect the values of stakeholders in order to deliver trust, belief, commitment and success. This is not about revolution but about evolution and growth. And this requires introspection, self-knowledge, alignment, shared belief, vision and a sense of purpose.
The process is not hard, but it is deep and requires commitment. The journey is not arduous, but it is continuous. And the prize, as those who have travelled this road before can attest, is great. It yields committed employees who believe in the company, deliver better performance and stay, advocates who champion your cause and a whole community that promotes your brand and a stronger culture that is built around shared values, vision and sense of purpose.
This approach has proven successful in the difficult engineering sector. Engineering consultancy Atkins had the business critical need to accelerate its recruitment levels and engage a more diverse audience. With over 2,000 vacancies to fill, the company recognised that the need went beyond just another recruitment campaign. As a result of Appetite’s work helping to create and communicate an authentic and compelling employer brand proposition, targets were achieved and surpassed and a clear sense of purpose now drives business strategy and brand culture. Atkins is now ranked among the top 50 most inDemand Employers in the UK on LinkedIn and is listed in the Sunday Times Best Companies to work for.