Benefits and Compensation

Why Helping Employees Discover Their Purpose Helps HR Leaders

Though the Great Resignation is in full swing, hiring rates are greater than quit rates since November 2020 as workers seek greater well-being in their careers. As such, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggested the workforce is experiencing a “Great Reshuffle” instead.

Unfulfillment at work is linked to the overall work environment, but changing the physical workspace only remedies symptoms of dissatisfaction. Employees are searching for meaning in their work, which is linked to discovering one’s purpose.

“Purpose isn’t what you do, it’s how you do your job and why,” according to the Harvard Business Review.

Critical Factors for Worker Satisfaction

Employees who don’t have a sense of job satisfaction and purpose in their work aren’t likely to stay long, and replacing those workers falls back on HR leaders. This leads to the organization putting more pressure on HR to come up with programs to enhance the employee experience.

Retaining talent requires less cost and effort compared with continuously onboarding new workers. Here are four success factors critical to employee recruitment, retention, and fulfillment.

Employee Wellness

The safety and well-being of employees are top priorities that have been especially brought to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when there’s a return to the office in some capacity, there are other ways to promote worker health aside from safety protocols alone, ranging from standing desks to earned sabbaticals and wellness programs.

An employee’s health extends beyond the physical, too. When workers sense purpose where they work, their mental/emotional health will be stronger, allowing them to produce better work.


If there’s no plan for workers to grow at an organization, they could feel their skills stagnating and the inability to progress in their careers. Providing training to keep workers sharp and continually challenged will give them confidence. In turn, they’ll be able to deliver better work to clients and feel they’re a more integral part of the team.

Training will look different from company to company. It could be traditional classes, workshops, or on-the-job learning. If HR can also embed company purpose in new programs and experiences, they will see more effective learning outcomes.


According to the Pew Research Center, 63% of workers who quit a job in 2021 said low pay was the primary factor for leaving. Simply providing standard raises, however, can send the wrong message, as workers may perceive that pay is only related to offsetting inflation.

Linking compensation to individual contributions or team achievements can send a better message. Especially when they’re linked to the purpose of the business, fair wages will go a long way.


Company culture—or how a business conducts itself, from working with clients to interacting with employees—incorporates all of the aforementioned factors. But the primary source of work culture comes from having a shared purpose.

Four Key Ways to Cultivate Employee Purpose

HR leaders can begin to increase employee fulfillment by fostering companywide adoption of these four key methods for cultivating purpose:

Meaningful Work

Workers require meaningful work that also aligns with their personal purpose. But an organization can’t simply state its purpose; it has to show it through actions if it wants to build a strong culture and instill commitment in its employees. HR leaders can best share this purpose through events and activities that bring everyone together.

The most meaningful work focuses on how your company improves the lives of others. Let’s look at a company type that may not be traditionally seen as “crucial”: custodial services. Such organizations don’t just provide cleaning services; they also provide lifesaving infection prevention and more satisfactory working environments. Hiring workers who believe in that common goal will likely also find meaning in their work.


Most organizations have experienced at least one employee who wasn’t a good fit. Unfulfilled workers may cause unnecessary drama through gossiping, for example. They could even have a negative effect on production if they’re unmotivated, which can impact the whole team.

Employees whose personal purpose aligns with their job are less likely to engage in unhealthy workplace behaviors. When workers see how their job aligns with a larger part of themselves, they’ll be happier and more fulfilled while at work. And if workers find meaning and fulfillment in their work, HR can nurture a team who all feel they belong at their job, which will create a healthier, more productive work environment.

Equitable Compensation

Increasing an employee’s wages can increase satisfaction for a time but isn’t enough to retain workers. Having just wages at a purpose-driven job, however, will bring fulfillment, which is more powerful than just satisfaction. As Jim Carrey put it, “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that’s not the answer.”


Flexibility in work life starts with going beyond the traditional 40-hour workweek. Examples of flexibility can include:

  • Accommodating employees’ individuality, from work preferences to the work atmosphere;
  • Flexible schedules, which could look like different shift times or longer days with fewer days at work each week;
  • Recognizing employees for their individual accomplishments, as well as according to their preference for praise in the office (because not everyone appreciates a companywide message);
  • Telecommuting options; and
  • Trusting workers with independence to perform their job and meet expectations by avoiding micromanaging.

Where HR Shines

Company leadership often thinks of purpose alignment through an organizational lens. But have you thought of how the purpose-alignment process for employees can strengthen the company’s purpose? Employees can be your greatest advocates when they feel fulfilled at work.

HR leaders have a tremendous opportunity to step into an important role as a chief purpose officer. By helping current employees discover their purpose and hiring new employees who align with the company’s purpose, they can vastly improve employee recruitment, retention, and overall fulfillment.

To fulfill all four key objectives for cultivating employee purpose, organizations must, in many ways, redefine the workplace dynamic. One solution for achieving this is by implementing a hybrid workplace, which can help facilitate:

  • Meaningful work
  • Equitable compensation
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility

Hybrid work is most often a project-based contract or retainer-based role wherein 50% or more of an employee’s work comes from a primary employer. The remainder of that worker’s time is spent on various freelance/entrepreneurial pursuits. Unilever has pioneered this approach and has seen success in its purpose-led brands.

A key benefit of hybrid workis that it provides an atmosphere where employees can uniquely fulfill their purpose by helping people with their individual talents and skills. When workers pursue purpose, they’ll find fulfillment.

HR leaders can play a pivotal role in implementing a hybrid work program by ensuring the company purpose aligns with the individual employee purpose. This approach helps create a working relationship that benefits both company leadership and workers.

In other words, employers can save through decreased full-time hours while retaining desirable talent. And employees have job security coupled with the energy and freedom to pursue other meaningful projects that are important to them.

The Time for Insightful HR Leadership Is Now

Undeniably, there is great disruption in our current workforce, in terms of both workers’ growing need to find purpose in their jobs and their subsequent lack of hesitation to find it in new organizations when they’re unfulfilled in current roles. By following the insights shared in this article, HR leaders can better guide their organizations on how to create work environments that lead to greater talent retention and, yes, enhanced companywide productivity.

Bottom line: Those that develop corporate cultures and practices to support purpose endeavors will find themselves with a clear competitive advantage in today’s and tomorrow’s labor market.    

Greg Sloan, CFP®, CEPA, CPMTM, is a Chief Purpose Officer and Cofounder of Go Beyond, a people development company that combines behavioral science and technology to create a more prosperous workforce. With over 25+ years of experience in wealth management and financial services, Sloan is a serial founder who discovered his personal purpose and wants to share the knowledge of how to achieve this same goal with others. He is a thought leader who centers his time and energy on purpose and people, with a focus on purpose in the workplace, the future of work, and financial wellness. Go Beyond’s mission is to create scalable, science-based tools and content that can be easily distributed worldwide to enable people to live better lives. It accomplishes this by working with companies to help employers discover and support their employees’ personal purpose, thus increasing job satisfaction, retention, and overall wellness. 

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