Imagine what would happen if every person was connected to shared purpose at work — to a job that mattered to them, their company, and the world.

Imagine how much more productive and successful those purpose-oriented workers could be.

Think of what they could collectively accomplish.

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.

According to Aaron Hurst, the CEO of Imperative, there are essentially two reasons people choose to work:

1:  Work for financial gain or personal status.  (not “purposeful”)

2:  Work to help others, contribute, or for personal fulfillment (“purposeful”).

Their research shows that everyone in every profession falls into one of these categories.


The shared purpose movement is already happening.

People are increasingly looking for jobs that give them personal fulfillment, and companies are seeing that purpose-oriented employees are more productive and successful.

At LinkedIn, purpose-oriented employees have higher levels of engagement and fulfillment with their work. They outperform their peers in every indicator, including expected tenure and leadership competencies like self-advocacy and comfort with senior leadership.

“Companies that understand the increasing emphasis of purpose in today’s professional landscape improve their ability to attract such employees and also their ability to retain them for longer periods of time.”

Reid Hoffman – Executive Chairman and co-founder LinkedIn

Glassdoor correlation of “company ratings” to various factors research reveals that “culture and values” are the most highly correlated factors in someone’s likelihood of recommending their company as a great place to work.


According to Gary Baker, to be a market leader and a company with a bright future, you need an organisational overarching purpose.

Deloitte’s Core Beliefs and Culture Survey and HBR’s The Business Case for Purpose Report are just two of the many research studies noting the benefits for a higher purpose-driven company:

  • Increases employee engagement, providing a sense of meaning and fulfillment
  • Positively impacts on performance and better financial outcomes
  • Increases innovation and transformational change and helps employees to persevere through challenging situations
  • Helps companies with their strategy and streamlined decision-making to support new business development efforts
  • Helps an organisation contribute to societal wellbeing and a more sustainable world
  • Help brand recognition, drive positive brand changes and increases customer loyalty
  • Helps attract and retain purpose-oriented employees
  • Increases willingness of teams to collaborate across functional and product boundaries
  • Provides a fresh outlook for performance evaluations and employee recognition programs

These results happen because organisations do better when everyone is rowing in the same direction. It also is why the predominant characteristics of an organisation with higher purpose are: focus, clarity, motivation and fulfillment. 


According to John Bersin, Imperative’s research reveals that those who are “purposeful” at work perform better:

    • 55% more likely than average to rise to Director-level roles
    • 39% more likely to rise to VP or C-level positions
    • 50% more likely to be in the top position
    • Significantly more likely to be net promoters of their organizations, stay longer, have stronger relationships, report higher levels of fulfillment, and get higher performance scores.


These employees that identify as purpose-driven workers have 20% longer expected tenures, are 50% more likely to be in leadership positions.

47% more likely to be promoters of their employers and have 64% higher levels of fulfillment in their work.



Purpose is multidimensional

According to Elizabeth Davis, purpose is multidimensional impacting the way the workplace is organizing to inspire their employees, the identification and empowerment of purpose-oriented workers, and the integration of purpose into both brands and the employer brand.

Organizations like Unilever, IKEA and Starbucks build purpose into their brands, and are seeing the impact it has on employee longevity and the bottom line.

Unilever recently announced that their brands who have adopted goals from their Sustainable Living Plan, such as Lifebuoy and Dove, grew 30% faster than those who did not embrace purpose, and delivered almost 50% of the company’s growth.

Unilever, because of their purpose to make sustainable living commonplace that is embedded into company’s operations, personal KPI’s, supply chain and key brands, is currently the #1 employer in 34 of their global markets.


For the past few years, mindfulness has begun to transform the workplace.

Many companies, such as General Mills, Ford, Target, and Google, have built extensive programs to foster mindful practices among their workers.

The New York Times described how Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, has applied purpose to their workforce.

He has offered free yoga and meditation classes to Aetna employees; more than 13,000 workers have participated. He began selling the same classes to the businesses that contract with Aetna for their health insurance.

The movement is spreading through the business world.

Companies like Google offer emotional intelligence courses for employees. General Mills has a meditation room in every building on its corporate campus. And even Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and BlackRock are teaching meditation on the job.

And Mark Bertolini, after reading “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the treatise on inequality by the French economist Thomas Piketty, Bertolini gave his lowest-paid employees a 33 percent raise.

“If we can create a healthier you, we can create a healthier world and healthier company,” Bertolini told the audience.

Imperative’s research, found that the correlation of satisfaction at work and purpose orientation was consistent in virtually every country and industry studied.


The results of the study were published in The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology



Attracting purpose-driven talent brings profit

Research also confirms that employees are drawn to companies with a defined purpose— and that sense of shared purpose also helps drive better business performance and results. A further Deloitte study found that purpose-driven companies are more confident for the future.

 “The survey results strongly suggest that focusing on purpose, rather than profits, builds business confidence,” says Punit Renjen, chairman of Deloitte LLP. “This finding underscores the significant impact a culture of purpose can play in fostering a thriving business. Profits can be mercurial, but purpose is not.”


Purpose brings profit.

According to Elizabeth Davis, Founding Partner, Carol Cone ON PURPOSE, purpose, an organization’s aspirational reason for being beyond profits, is creating an impact on hiring, retaining talent and an organization’s bottom line.

Companies that embrace shared purpose in their hiring, retention and organizational strategies will be the winners and future leaders of tomorrow.

Attracting purpose-driven talent helps companies build a workforce that stays longer and exponentially increases growth.


Research from the E.Y. Beacon Institute and Harvard Business School shows that companies that lead with purpose are more likely to be profitable.



Company financial results are demonstrating a strong sense of shared purpose is a valuable asset that when is nurtured by leadership enhances the value of a company.

In their book, “Corporate Culture and Performance”, John Kotter and James Heskett found that purpose-driven businesses with shared-values-based cultures enjoy 400% higher revenues, 700% greater job growth, 1,200% higher stock prices, and significantly faster profit performance, as compared to companies in similar industries that were focused on profit alone.

And has also been confirmed by the connection between employee trust and financial-performance.

However, overall Imperative’s research, found that only 28% of employees find work meaningful. The majority have a more transactional relationship with work, seeing work in terms of financial gain, or achieving social status.

And there are trends here:

  • Only 20% of tech workers are “purpose oriented”
  • Women and people over 55 are much more likely to be “purpose oriented.”  In fact the older you get, the more purpose-oriented you become.
  • Only 50% of CEO’s and only 39% of VP’s are “purpose oriented.”
  • Purpose oriented people have much deeper relationships at work (69% vs. 45%).
  • Artists are by far the most purpose-oriented (almost 2X higher than the average), followed by professionals.  Sservice workers are above average in purpose-orientation.
  • By industry, education, forestry, non-profit, and healthcare organizations tend to have more purpose-oriented workers.



Companies can lead with purpose.

According to Imperative’s CEO Aaron Hurst, a company can embody purpose in a number of ways.

Purpose-driven companies have a stated and measured reason for being, a mission that all employees know.

They have a culture and jobs that deliver employees the three core elements of experiencing purpose:

  • Positive impact on others
  • Personal development
  • Delivery of work through strong relationships

Given the right environment and coaching, managers, mentors and talent acquisition leaders can help foster a sense of purpose in employees.

The shared sense of purpose enables distributed leadership, which has been shown to increase team performance.

According to Gary Baker, shared purpose is the overarching reason for why a company does what it does. The inspirational driver that defines and drives all organizational activities — innovation, creativity, policy, structure, culture, communication, processes, as well as performance, growth and change.

A strong sense of shared purpose, authentic and aligned with a company’s business strategy, mission, vision, and values, enables collaborative engagement with a business’s stakeholders: employees, customers, communities, vendors and regulatory agencies.


You have the power to make work more meaningful.

You can create engagement and inspiration — by connecting purpose with work.