Meaningful missions and profitable work needn’t be mutually exclusive.
6 min read
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Adaptability, hustle and momentum are everything, especially in today’s competitive, ever-changing technological environment. If only your employees would spend fewer hours on social media and more time perfecting their individual crafts, your business would easily outpace less efficient competitors, allowing you to live the entrepreneurial dream you’ve always wanted.
But how can you instill a greater sense of urgency without making everyone miserable at work? Well, several pieces of research suggest that adding meaning and purpose to their tasks has everything to do with increasing productivity. For instance, the 2016 Global Purpose Index reported that 58 percent of companies with a clear mission and purpose grew by 10 percent or more versus only 42 percent of companies lacking one. Even more surprising, 42 percent of non-purpose-driven companies evinced a yearly decrease in revenue, while 85 percent of purpose-driven companies showed positive growth.
That positive or negative growth is at least party fueled by the spirit and motivation of a business’s workers. According to research by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, a whopping 49 percent of employees would trade a portion of their salary for an added sense of purpose. So with that emphasis in mind, here are three purpose-driven ways to increase your company’s productivity and profitability.
1. Treat your employees like partners.
For renowned Hollywood branding agent Lorenzo Rusin, who’s overseen product placement for movies including Terminator: Dark Fate and Martin Scorsese’s latest, The Irishman, maintaining a respectful and professional environment is of utmost importance. “I surround myself with an amazing staff,” Rusin explains via email. “I treat my employees as my partners. At the same time, I try to involve myself in every project I can, while sharing my success with them. They deserve it.”
Many employers make the mistake of distancing themselves from their employees via a complex and intimidating hierarchy. If you own a big corporation, that might be necessary (in which it case it’s the manager’s job to inspire action and your job to inspire the managers). But in the early days of entrepreneurship, it can be counterintuitive. Adds Rusin, “I’ve found that if you spend more time with your employees, really get to know them, treat them more like partners, they are more excited to come to work and far more efficient at what they do.”
2. Create a deeper reason for being in business.
At the heart of running a purpose-driven business is, well, having a purpose, but that doesn’t mean you need to bail on your highly profitable SaaS company and build a nonprofit. It simply means that you need to be in business for some reason that’s deeper than making money. This is a common message among the business world’s elite. Richard Branson has gone so far as to say, “In the modern world, there can be no profit without a well-defined purpose.”
Consider Dallas attorney turned YouTube star Lee Steinfeld, who uses his platform to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or Alex Haditaghi, the Canadian philanthropist who once handed out 1,400 turkeys to people in need. Some businessess state their purpose right on their website. Carrot’s goal is to “add humanity to business and help people regain time for the things that matter.” Patagonia is in business to “save our home planet.” And Lush vigorously fights against animal testing.
Not only will having a purpose provide you and your employees with something to fight for and be excited about, but it will unite you all around a single goal that guides decision-making, which will increase productivity and decrease lack of interest in the workplace (not to mention that it will more quickly attract your ideal market).
3. Put each team member in a position they’re passionate about.
Jeff Bezos once said, “I think we all have passions, and you don’t get to choose them, but you have to be alert to them.” And the fact of the matter is, as shown by the data cited earlier in this article, is that people work hardest and stay interested longest when it’s geared toward something that they naturally care about. Unfortunately, according to The Conference Board, more than half of employees are unhappy at their jobs
Take Maria Vathis, president of The Federal Bar Association and Of Counsel at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, who has been dedicating her year to focusing on health and wellness. Holding two powerful positions simultaneously can be draining, so maintaining good time-management is of the essence. That’s why, in a phone interview, Vathis advises “to make sure that work is finished well in advance of any deadlines,” because in the law, clients come first, which means she may not always be able to attend every FBA event.
“In keeping with the theme of health and wellness, I make it a priority to stay hydrated, take vitamins, and to exercise when I travel,” she adds. “It has been a busy time between being national president and practicing law, but it helps when you love what you do.”
It’s your job to honestly analyze whether that’s the case for your team members. If it is, then you need to either inspire them with a greater purpose, transfer them to a different position they’ll be more passionate about, or (I know it stinks) let them go. Because the more that your business hangs on to lackluster employees with little passion, the more difficult it will be to grow, thrive and outpace your most aggressive competitors.