Purpose-oriented workers are dramatically changing our workforce. Employees no longer want a 9-5 job, they want to help others and have an impact.

According to Elizabeth Davis, Founding Partner, Carol Cone ON PURPOSE, organisations that unite around shared purpose, will be the winners and future leaders of tomorrow. Purpose has a triple meaning in the workplace – the way the workplace is organizing to inspire their employees, the identification and empowerment of purpose-oriented workers, and the integration of purpose into brands.

According to Imperative’s Workforce Purpose Index, in partnership with New York University,  define a purpose-oriented worker as one with a psychological predisposition to see work as primarily about purpose – personal fulfillment and helping other people.

People want to work for, and with, companies that have purpose at their core, companies that align with their values, and allow them to be a part of something that is bigger than their job.

This is especially valid for millennials, who want to learn, be mentored and spend their time in organizations that have greater vision and a greater purpose:

  • 60% of millennials believe that a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work at their current employer
  • 90% want to use their skills to create positive social impact
  • 87% millennials believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance
  • In the Shapers Annual Survey, six in ten millennials indicated that an opportunity to “make a difference in society, my city, or my country” is the top factor they look for in a job.

A purposeful workplace goes beyond the millennial generation.

The results indicate that purpose-orientation increased across generation groups, with baby boomers leading the way. This could potentially be connected to broader developmental psychology theories.

Erik Erikson, a German psychoanalyst, identified an eight-stage theory of development and identity. A shift in identity changes between the ages of 18-35 and 35-65. Erickson theorized that young adults (millennials) are focused on building relationships. When they reach middle age, there’s a shift to associate identity with what one is contributing to society.

From a slightly different perspective, according to Peter Vanham, Senior Media Manager, World Economic Forum, millennials want a job with purpose, but they also want a decent paycheck.

Millennials want purpose over paychecks, and seek to balance that with success. They look for opportunities to learn and grow. And in response, companies are adapting so they can better work with this generation.

This is the well-known narrative about millennials, the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s.  But as a recent World Economic Forum survey shows that millennials care about making money first, and career advancement second.

54% of surveyed millennials consider financial compensation one of the three most important criteria when considering a job, compared to 45% who value career advancement the most, and 37% who think having a sense of purpose is the most important factor.

According to Euromonitor research there is no such thing as a “global generation” to support that young people prefer to gather experiences rather than material things.

But in the end, millennials are different in different parts of the world.

You can find the full Global Shaper survey results here, and the press release mentioning the salary vs. purpose preferences here.