The Search for Purpose.

Now more than ever people are looking for more out of their careers. Employees want to work for purpose-driven organisations who are socially, environmentally & economically responsible and companies that value their people and their purpose, as well as their profits, are pulling ahead of the crowd.

Every day we are seeing this more and more in the work that we are doing. The applications & cover letters that fill the Talent Nation inbox, and the conversations we are having with candidates and clients are all evidence of the energy that is building around this. People at all levels, in a range of industries, want to know that they’re contributing to something bigger than a bottom line and are striving for a purpose-driven career.

The 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey revealed that 77% of highly connected Millennials stated that their company’s purpose was part of the reason they chose to work there and 75% of Millennials believe businesses are too focused on their own agendas and not focused enough on helping to improve society. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey affirms this again, ‘Millennials very much believe that business success is built on a foundation of long-term sustainability rather than pursuing short-term profit maximization’.

At the ‘Elevating Purpose in Business’ event last month Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, talked about his journey. What started off as missing out on the million dollar prize on The Amazing Race (by 4 minutes!), led to him founding an organisation that has given away over 30,000,000 shoes. It is a great story about how a flourishing business has grown from a concept of giving back. Everybody who buys the TOMS shoes wants to tell their story, and everybody who works for TOMS is proud to be part of that. With regard to employees, Mycoskie made the comment that “the best way to attract amazing people is to give them a purpose not just a pay check”.

Another member of the B Corp community, Harwood Andrews Lawyers completed their graduate intake program towards the end of 2015 and they too found that a large majority of applicants cited the B Corp status of the firm as a key motivator for them wanting to work there.

But the idea of making a positive impact through one’s employment is not unique to graduates or millennials. Regularly Talent Nation receives enquiries from people across a range of roles and industries who want to use their skills in positions of purpose, where they are adding value to their local communities, connected to people, groups, and organisations that have their back.

And there are many ways you can find purpose in the work that you do; take me for example. I have worked in the recruitment industry for 18 years both in the UK and here in Australia. The recruitment industry does not have the greatest reputation for ethics and values and certainly early in my career it was all about numbers and individuals were viewed as a revenue generation tool. Fast-forward to 2012 and the launch of Talent Nation. I had been operating in the Environmental recruitment space for several years however it still had a focus on revenue generation. I sold my stake and during my ‘gardening leave’ I completed the Centre for Sustainability Leadership fellowship program which gave me exposure to a range of people who thought like I did.

We still operate as recruiters however the roles we work on all centre around purpose  whether it be purpose-driven roles in organisations (Environment, Sustainability) or purpose-driven organisations themselves (social enterprise, NFPs and B Corps). We are the first and only recruitment company in Australia to achieve B Corp certification and enjoy being an active member of the B Corp community. Individually I have the pleasure of working with the team at the Banksia Foundation in a voluntary capacity and apply my business skills to the Board.

So, the search for purpose does not necessarily mean the search for a new job. There are many ways that you can find purpose in the work that you are doing:

  • Add to your current role – take on internal initiatives.
  • Become an internal sustainability champion.
  • Get involved with community volunteering.
  • NFP Board appointments and corporate/ skilled volunteering.

And if you are looking to find a company that is purpose driven, the B Corp community is a great place to start.

We would love to hear other ways that people have found purpose in the work that they do.