Company’s Purpose Can Be A Powerful Motivation Tool

Having a purpose you believe in makes you wake up in the morning”

Jenny Elfsberg, Director Emerging Technologies, Volvo Construction Equipment

Elfsberg told about her work and the purpose she finds in it at Laatukeskus Excellence Finland Oy’s Quality Conference. She also spoke about how companies need to create the conditions for workers to feel that they are doing something important. These remarks are topical, as workers make more and more decisions about their work based on the meaningfulness they experience. We live in an age of experience economics.

Companies are expected to have a purpose that seems relevant

It is no longer special to see news where someone decides to ignore traditional working life and travel around the globe writing a blog. Even if everyone does not resort to this option, it is a bad thing for the employer if people feel that their work is only a mandatory thing to tolerate. Then work becomes this thing that you need to suffer through so that you can focus on the most important things in life like family, leisure and hobbies. If work is equally important and meaningful, the commitment given to it is much larger.

Companies are expected to have a purpose that is relevant and motivating

From a company’s point of view, finding this meaning means, for example, that it must have a purpose that the employee feels relevant. While traditionally speaking, the main purpose of companies is to make money, it is no longer so simple in terms of new ways of thinking. In her new book, Lisa Earle McLeod speaks of the term Noble Sales Purpose. The company talks about how it serves others (noble), the action is based on what is actually being sold (sales) and why what is done is done (purpose). This will help all in the organization to see the underlying purpose, but also to understand the importance of commercial side and their part in it.[1]

McLeod’s book also states that the purpose of an organization’s activity should be so integrated that it is the core of what the organization actually is. The organizations that have access to it are well distinguished from their competitors. The book lists some of the ways to permanently link purpose to the organization’s culture:

  • The organization hires new employees who feel that the purpose of the organization is relevant.
  • The ultimate purpose of the organization is reflected in employee job descriptions and evaluations.
  • At the board level, the status of an organization is assessed with the goal and purpose in mind – not just short term milestones.
  • Purpose of the organization is regularly communicated and it gets attention in annual reports.[2]

From these conclusions, it can be seen that besides employees, the purpose and the meaning created by it are critical for the whole organization. Studies have shown that they help to build a healthy, functional and competitive organization.[3] This connection is easy to see. It can also be a thing that binds people together in the many changes of working life.

Leader: Inspire and give meaning to work

When the purpose of an organization’s activity is clarified, how do you bring it up? You readers in a management position should take a moment and think about how much and what ways you bring up the purpose of work. Managers have a big role to play in getting the attention to the purpose of the organization. They can talk about meaning and bring the importance of work into everyday discussions and especially focus on it in change situations – or ignore it completely. This research has far-reaching results: employees whose managers do not speak about the meaning seem twice as likely to change jobs.[4]

It is good for a superior to recognize that people feel meaningfulness in three levels: for themselves (including livelihoods and career development), for a broader group (working in a well-functioning or respected team / organization, affecting clients, impacting on their own community) or in its broadest sense (social or global impact). Most importantly, it is felt when an employee sees connections to all of them in some way.[5] The above-mentioned “noble selling purpose” is partly the same. However, it is useful for the leader to demonstrate the links between different levels and activities and to support the employee in finding relevance at all levels, for example, through discussions and feedback.

We have written a number of blogs about the current sate of management. Creating a purpose is also present in many of these topics. See the following blogs for more insights:


[1] McLeod, L.E. (2016) Leading with Noble Purpose: How to Create a Tribe of True Believers. John Wiley & Sons.

[2] McLeod, L.E. (2016) Leading with Noble Purpose: How to Create a Tribe of True Believers. John Wiley & Sons.

[3] Amabile, T. & Kramer, S. (2012) To Give Your Employees a Meaning, Start With Mission.

[4] McLeod, L.E. (2016) Leading with Noble Purpose: How to Create a Tribe of True Believers. John Wiley & Sons.

[5] Amabile, T. & Kramer, S. (2012) To Give Your Employees a Meaning, Start With Mission.


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