Over 50 percent of our waking hours are spent on-the-job. Over a lifetime, the average person spends 90,000 hours at work. With so much time dedicated to work, we often wonder if it’s worth it.
Is it possible that work can be something more than, well, work?
For work to be more than work, having a higher purpose is not a luxury, it is a necessity. If you yearn for work to matter, you are not alone. Having a higher purpose for our work makes all the difference. Are you “punching the clock” or are you making a difference? Are you waiting for the “5 o’clock whistle” or are you a little put out because your friends are wondering why you missed dinner, again, while working on that key project? If you think your work is simply work, either you’re in the wrong job or you need to adjust your thinking.
It can feel stale and meaningless performing daily tasks without a greater purpose. We are inspired and motivated when we know our work matters.
For some, the solution is to pursue a career known for its immediate impact on the lives of others. They take on challenging roles like social work, education, the medical field, or non-profit organizations. In these roles, the connection between the work and the meaning is pretty direct. A doctor saves someone’s life and the family is grateful. You help someone through a difficult personal situation and a life is turned around.
For others, the greater purpose is less obvious or even non-existent. How can delivering shareholder value or contributing to the bottom line matter more than just money? The encouraging news is that every single person and position can serve a higher purpose. Oftentimes we must look deeper to find the significance. Keep reading.
PURPOSE IS ESSENTIAL
Having a clear organizational purpose is critical for helping employees find meaning and purpose. It’s a reinforcing process.
Purpose inspires. It brings clarity to decisions. By understanding “the why,” individuals are more likely to get behind “the what.”
One of the best ways to increase engagement, productivity, and performance is to increase meaning at work. As President John F. Kennedy said, “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
I love the Harley-Davidson’s purpose statement. You would think that it would be tough to find something individually significant for someone who manufactures motorcycles. Interestingly, their purpose has nothing to do with making cool “bikes”. The Harley-Davidson purpose is “fulfilling dreams of personal freedom.” Sounds pretty American. Sounds pretty cool. A lot of us could get behind that.
At Credera, a key part of our higher purpose is serving. Sounds odd for a high end consulting firm. But it’s what we do and why we do it. We serve our clients, our colleagues, and our communities. We hope to make a difference in the lives of those we work with. At Credera, we aren’t inspired solely by what we do, but also by who we do it for.
Simply put, we want to help our friends.
4 THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED ABOUT PURPOSE
As we pursue a higher purpose through our work, we’ve learned that purpose must be clearly defined and articulated, others-focused, deeply embedded, celebrated and shared.
1. Our purpose is clearly defined – and articulated
According to a Gallup poll, only 4 in 10 employees know what their company stands for. The research also shows that emphasizing mission and purpose is one of the strongest influences for retaining Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. It’s important to clearly define organizational purpose and to help employees answer the questions, “What do I get paid to do?” and “What guides everything our company does?”
At Credera, we answer those questions by sharing our company purpose, values and goals often. Credera U classes, Fireside Chats, team retreats, open door policies, authentic communication, and blog posts are a few ways we define and articulate our purpose. You may have heard the phrase “vision leaks”. It’s true. It leaks. It gets lost in the day-to-day. It is diluted by new employees with sometimes negative experiences from their previous companies. You must continue to talk about your vision and refill the bucket – even if you sound like a song on constant repeat.
2. Our purpose is others-focused
Life is most fulfilling when serving others. Helping an elderly neighbor out with simple chores fills our bucket. Buying a cup of coffee for a friend who needs some encouragement in their job search puts a skip in our step. Crederians love putting others before themselves. We always advise clients to do what’s best for them – even if it hurts us. For example, when Chili’s was looking for a strategic partner we offered a point of view that put the opportunity at significant risk for Credera. We thought we might lose the deal. However, we experienced a different outcome. Chili’s VP of Digital Innovation said, “It made me understand that Credera was committed to our success before we even hired them.” Serving may not always be the easiest road, but it is the one with most meaning.
3. Our purpose is deeply embedded
“Actions speak louder than words.” What we actually do, matters much more than what we say. Further, everything we do must be consistent with what we say. Yeah – everything actually means everything. For example, at Credera, we work to live out our purpose by centering our values around it, giving a percentage of our profits each year to the community, hosting annual service days, and recognizing employees who exemplify servant leadership. For us, serving the community is a natural and authentic extension of serving each other and our clients. It’s who we are and what we do.
4. Our purpose is celebrated and shared
Sharing and celebrating the tangible examples of how our work makes a difference spurs us on. Patrick Lencioni says managers should help employees answer two questions, “Who am I helping?” and “How am I helping?” We do this at Credera by celebrating and sharing stories with one another. Seeing and celebrating the successes of our clients, fellow employees, and our community is fun and motivating. It reminds us that living out our purpose matters – it really matters.
Senior Consultant Maria Knabe shared how the impact of our work together is one of her top 10 favorite things about Credera. “Most of the projects I have been a part of have been huge investments for our clients and have had a direct impact on their business… It feels great having a role on these projects and knowing exactly what my contribution to the project has been.”
What we do together is significant and matters. As Credera grows, we will stay united and continuously rally around our shared purpose. It reminds us why we exist. It is a siren constantly calling us back to who we are. Serving one another, our clients, and our communities unites us across practices, client projects, and physical office locations. It’s who we are and what we do.
What makes your job meaningful? How can you help your friends today? Who can you encourage by reminding them of the purpose behind their work? Go help a neighbor. Buy a friend a cup of coffee. Make a recommendation that is good for your company but bad for you. See what happens. Make it part of who you are and what you do.
LIFE AT CREDERA
We’re “open-sourcing” the Credera culture in a series called Life at Credera. We are sharing an authentic perspective on what we are learning and where we are growing. We are talking about friendships and fun, growth, higher purpose, talent and character, leadership, and communication.
We hope this series is a helpful resource on the continuous pursuit of a great culture. And we hope the results are encouraging to our company, employees, clients, and friends.
Looking for more? Check out these great Life at Credera perspectives: