How to inspire the next generation through a clearly defined greater purpose?
Management guru Jim Collins claims that “the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.” In the book Leading Organizations, McKinsey senior partners Scott Keller and Mary Meaney highlight the significant benefits of attracting and retaining the right talent, their research revealing that top talent can be as much as 800% more productive than average employees. However, given the current baby boomer exodus that many companies face, the challenge goes far beyond the obvious concerns around skill levels and the resultant impact on productivity and performance. The reality is that a generation holding decades of knowledge and experience must be replaced by a new talent pipeline, a pipeline dominated by millennials whose loyalties are driven by a very different set of principles and priorities. The task of creating a new employee value proposition to attract and retain the best talent amongst this next-generation workforce should be high on the agenda of all businesses, especially family enterprises who are invested in inter-generational succession.
The Millennial Mindset
In order to successfully position a business as an attractive option to the millennial workforce, a clear understanding is required of what motivates and inspires this generation.
According to the Deloitte 2018 Millennial Survey: “In a fragmenting social and political environment, with Industry 4.0 driving profound changes, many millennials are exhibiting a marked desire for reassurance. They feel pessimistic about the prospects for political and social progress, along with concerns about safety, social equality and environmental sustainability.” Consequently, this generation demonstrates very little loyalty to organizations who prioritize the bottom line above their people, societal and environmental welfare.
Key Priorities Of The Millennial Workforce
One of the key findings of the Deloitte report was that “Millennials want leaders to more aggressively commit to making a tangible impact on the world.” This sentiment is consistent with the findings of both experts at the London Business School and PwC’s recent Workforce of the Future survey, highlighting the importance of aligned values and purpose to attract and retain the millennial workforce.
The Importance Of Purpose
The evidence supporting the benefits of purpose is compelling: Purpose consultant Aaron Hurst, the founder of Imperative, found that 42% of companies that were not considered “purpose-driven” experienced a decline in year-on-year revenue. In contrast, 85% of purpose-led companies enjoyed positive growth. The reason for this is that purpose-driven businesses attract and keep the best talent and create an environment where people feel more connected, motivated and engaged. Daniel Pink, the author of Drive, states that “most deeply motivated people, not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied, hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.”
Defining Your Purpose Statement
As Simon Sinek says in his book, Start with Why, it’s the idea of who you are as a company and why you exist. Some questions you need to ask that can assist in defining a purpose statement:
Why does our organization’s existence matter?
What is our most important reason for being here?
What would be lost if this organization ceased to exist?
Why are we relevant to the people we serve?
Why would anyone dedicate their precious time, energy, and passion for our company?
Living Your Purpose
Ioannis Ioannou, Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at LBS, explains: “When companies are genuinely committed to purpose and sustainability it is reflected in their governance structure. Responsible businesses have a governance structure that monitors and advises on environmental, social as well as financial issues. “
The top of the organization sets the tone and signals a credible pledge to the purpose.
Ioannou continues that “When leaders understand and thrive within the broader social and environmental context in which their businesses operate, it also signals to employees, investors and key stakeholders how important purpose really is. You fail to send out a consistent and credible message when, for example, social responsibility is part of your company’s media rhetoric yet only financial performance is incentivised.”
It is clear that, if a family office or any company wants to be successful in attracting and retaining the best next-generation talent, it must become authentically purpose-driven and consistently reflect that purpose both internally and externally.