HSM Spotlight: Finding true purpose at work

Few leaders will have failed to notice the Great Resignation that’s sweeping the world of work – and making organisations feel that they are losing ground when it comes to attracting and retaining people.

Many organisations are reacting to this by dialling up the salaries and perks they offer. But, while some industries are justifiably seeing changes due to poor conditions and inadequate pay, what is behind the mass exodus in well-paid industries such as technology and IT, where TalentLMS found as many as 72% of workers considered quitting their jobs in 2021?

This question can be answered in a single word: purpose. According to research by Gartner, 65% of people said the pandemic had made them rethink the place work occupies in their life – and mass resignations are a sign of people taking action to redefine that place.

At HSM Advisory, our view is that if people are resigning because they need to feel that work has a greater sense of purpose and connection to their wider lives, then organisations are missing a vital opportunity to help them achieve this. As this piece by Employee Benefit News points out, Gartner’s study showed that 56% of people want to contribute more to society – and organisations are well-positioned to show them how they are already doing so. All they have to do is change the narrative on what constitutes “good” work. In many industries, people are incentivised to deliver high performance services or best-in-class products – but this may not fulfil their need to feel a sense of purpose.

Organisations can help by ensuring there is a clear narrative around how each type of work makes an impact and contributes to making the world a better place.

Ultimately, most people just want to feel that they – and their work – are valued. The Great Resignation is a hangover from the stress and burnout which emerged in 2020, not just due to overwork caused by blurred lines between work and home, but because of a sense that organisations and governments didn’t value the work people were doing. This was equally true for those who took on extra responsibilities during periods where resources where stretched, and those who were made redundant or furloughed due to the pandemic. Finding ways to recognise and appreciate the contributions people make on a regular basis is crucial to engendering a sense of purpose and wellbeing at work.

Do you feel you have a clear sense of purpose at work? I would be interested to hear from you. You can email me here or connect with me on LinkedIn here.