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  • Kathryn Hume

Driving Employee Engagement with Purpose



Employee engagement is the degree to which employees are committed to their work and organisation and has been shown to be meaningful predictor of an organisation’s long term success.[1] Employee engagement is of critical importance for leaders in organisations as it has been shown to enhance employee performance, increase job satisfaction and result in achievement of organisational goals[2]. With Gallup reporting engagement at around 30% over the past 18 years, there is evidence that performance can be dramatically enhanced by increasing engagement.[3]

Employees are a key resource in any organisation and enhancing their productivity will support attainment of the requisite competitive advantage required to thrive in today’s environment characterised by increasing global competitiveness, disruptive technology, the accelerating pace of change in increasing consumer expectations.

Berg (2015) defined personal purpose as “a deliberate choice to pursue a future directed intention that is personally meaningful, and beneficial to the greater society, that influences one’s goals and behaviours”[4] Having a sense of purpose has been shown to “aid cognitive decline by as much as 40%, reduce macroscopic stroke by 40%, aid sleep apnoea and add 7 years to our lives”.[5]

But purpose orientation can benefit organisations as well. Studies have shown a symbiotic relationship in organisations where an espoused organisational vision was aligned to personal purpose and goals.[6]

Purpose oriented people blend work into their lives and are motivated to help others, contribute and attain a sense of personal fulfillment. They look for opportunities to grow where they can have a meaningful impact. As a result they have been proven to have better relationships, promote their organisations, have a stronger sense of fulfillment add greater impact.[7]

Organisations with purpose driven employees can harness their intrinsic motivation by connecting personal purpose with organisational purpose to obtain mutually beneficial outcomes. This will enable individuals to achieve a state of flow where engagement will drive optimal performance.

Having a sense of purpose can make work meaningful and aid in goal setting. Goal achievement can lead to job satisfaction and subjective wellbeing. Subjective wellbeing can be both a precursor to performance and a result of it.

Therefore, for employee engagement to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes, leaders of organisations need to clearly articulate a vision for the organisation and support individuals to uncover their personal purpose and identify where it aligns to the vision. Individuals must believe that the vision is held by leaders in the organisations they work for.

Once this common purpose is agreed, individuals must be supported to develop their capability to perform to their potential. Employees must undertake self-directed learning to continually grow and perform to their potential. This will result in greater levels of satisfaction, subjective wellbeing, improved performance and organisational outcomes.

More to come on developing self-directed learners, supporting purpose orientation, capability development….

[1] Simon, S.S. 2011, "The Essentials of Employee Engagement in Organizations", Journal of Contemporary Research in Management, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 63-72.


[2] Mehrzi, N.A. & Singh, S.K. 2016, "Competing through employee engagement: a proposed framework", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 831-843.


[3] Gallup, I. (2013). How Employee Engagement Drives Growth. [online] Gallup.com. Available at: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236927/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx [Accessed 1 Jan 2020].


[4] Berg JL (2015) The role of personal purpose and personal goals in symbiotic visions. Front. Psychol. 6:443. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00443


[5] TEDxEdina Richard Leider. (2015). How to unlock the power of purpose. [Online Video]. 4 December 2015. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfiToT6S0j8. [Accessed: 29 December 2019].


[6] Baum, J. R., Dutterer, I. C., Locke, E. A., and Kirkpatrick, S. A. (1998). A longitudinal study of the relation of vision and vision communication to venture growth in entrepreneurial firms. J. Appl. Psychol. 83, 43–54. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.83.1.43


[7] Dr. Ev Damigo; PhD (2019). Connecting Shared Purpose with Work: The Imperative Research [video+research] | Thinking Ahead. [online] Uk.com. Available at: https://thinkingahead.uk.com/2019/04/15/connecting-shared-purpose-with-work-the-imperative-research/ [Accessed 1 Jan. 2020].

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