Are You Purpose-driven Enough to Attract the Right People?

Consider a guy named James who goes to work every day filled with purpose, or a woman named Julia who has a deep-seated passion for what she does at the office. You want to hire them, right? Someone who feels that sort of calling is bound to inspire others, wouldn’t you think? The real question is: Are you a company that’s purposeful enough to reel them in?

There’s a wise old proverb that says, “If you want to find a true friend, then be one.” And we immediately notice how this way of thinking flips our culture’s desire to find happiness somewhere out there on its head. Good friends won’t last through the peaks and valleys of life without the tough stuff of personal sacrifice, honesty, give and take, and a shared commitment to growth. Friendships aren’t found under a rock or discovered in a haystack. Friendships are made. Like goes with like.

So, if we want to hire and retain purpose-driven employees, then we better be a purpose-driven company. And that means more than lip-service about company goals and mission statements. It’s more than logos and outdoor picnics. It means that at the core, we’re committed to looking beyond ourselves and can attract the kind of people who want to join something larger than themselves. People who want to show their colors, voice their organizational pride, and tell stories to their friends about how awesome it is at work.

If you want to determine whether or not your company is truly purpose-driven, then ask yourself the following questions. And if you can’t say yes to all of them, go to work on the areas where you’re falling short. A little pruning always helps plants grow. 

  • Have you crystallized your purpose into communications that inspire your people? Do you lead by example and motivate others to embrace your company’s pillars of purpose? Do you reward behaviors that align with your purpose objectives?
  • Is your internal messaging authentic and personal and tailored to different audiences? Do you think about who they receive information from and where it is placed? Does your company’s purpose breathe life into the thread of daily communications?
  • Have you backed your vision with the strategic weight it needs, including proper funding and staffing to ensure its success? Do you make an ongoing, long-term commitment to and investment in it?

Purpose starts from within. And in corporate culture, just like with personal friendships, like goes with like. So do the hard internal work that will ensure we’re a company that the guy named James or the woman named Julia is dying to work for.

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image from Shutterstock

As CEO of J. Walter Thompson INSIDE, John Windolph is responsible for leading the agency, helping some of the nation’s biggest brands turn their culture into a powerful force of transformation and innovation.


2 Comments on “Are You Purpose-driven Enough to Attract the Right People?

  1. Great article, John! You can’t attract people looking to fulfill their calling if what you offer (as a company) are jobs. But I would say the way we describe our opportunities in job descriptions and job posts should reflect the purpose and calling as well. More than company goals and mission statements.

  2. Outstanding article John. Thanks for writing this.

    Another really important reason for connecting employees with your organization’s purpose–and communicating it clearly and compellingly, as you mentioned–is how doing so affects employee resilience.

    To paraphrase Nietzsche: “Employees can deal with almost any What, if they have a compelling Why.”

    During challenging times, reminding employees of the important, valuable work you/they are doing helps bring out their “Warrior Spirit” (as Southwest Airlines describes their resilient, Can Do culture).

    Thanks again,

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