In Remote Working Environments Purpose is More Important Than Ever

A company's values and culture are becoming increasingly important for the modern worker, quashing even the number on their paycheck. This has never been clearer than today, with the global pandemic both shifting and confirming priorities for workers around the world. 

As the government delays the widespread return to the office, and employees adjust their  expectations according to the changing landscape around them - from COVID-19 to the climate crisis to social justice issues –  companies need to meet them where they are.

And in the work-from-home world, awareness and engagement between staff and leadership is more important now than ever to maintain good employee experience. Businesses and employees are forced to make unexpected adjustments to survive, and the need for a deeper relationship between companies and their workforce is not just an asset, but a necessity.

An emotional connection

Leadership at many organisations is starting to take note of the shifting tide around emotional benefits in the workplace. 98% of CEOs we surveyed as part of our annual CEO Purpose Report agreed that the new generation of talent have expectations that challenge previously established norms of employee experience.

With the working day and environment looking radically different and uncertain, it's crucial for millennial and Gen Z employees to have a work-from-home experience that’s emotionally intelligent on an interpersonal level – but as the inheritors of such an uncertain future, they want and deserve more than that. Workers today want to invest their talents in a bolder company that has its eye on long-term values.

They expect to contribute to something more than just the job itself, and they want to feel connected to the organisation they work for in a broader sense than ever before.

But these emotional needs that the new workforce values most can be incredibly challenging for organisations to deliver – in our Purpose Report, 36% of CEOs told us that providing employees with the feeling that they are part of something bigger is either very or extremely challenging.

Giving talent a voice

One way to generate emotional intelligence in a remote working environment is to ensure employees are heard. Leadership has to keep their finger on the pulse and ensure talent has their say across the company.

This has myriad benefits. Not only can being more in touch with the goings on at every level of the employee experience increase talent attraction and retention, but it can also help leadership see multidisciplinary growth potential when it comes to internal recruitment and longer-term vision.

And in the work-from-home world, awareness and engagement between staff and leadership is even more important than ever to maintain employee loyalty, motivation and wellbeing. When we ran a WFH-specific version of the anonymous employee engagement survey we use to advise business leaders on internal purpose, we learned that many employees adapting to working from home  were experiencing a deep unease, linked not only to the pandemic, but to the blurring of lines between personal and professional lives, lack of physical space, and reduced access to professional development that had previously given them the bulk of their work satisfaction.

It’s only in knowing how employees are experiencing this present moment that companies can hope to adapt and survive for the long run. Organisations rely on their workforce, and for that reason, a commitment to engagement doesn’t just function as internal satisfaction, but is actually an invaluable asset to brands that want to move forward with purpose and achieve greater value goals in the wider world.

Purpose over profit

80% of purpose-led CEOs agree that business leaders today need to be more focused on long-term value creation rather than short-term profit delivery, but only 28% of CEOs are integrating purpose into their decision-making and strategy. As we continue to work at arms-length through the pandemic., and as businesses and employees do what they can to stay afloat, it's tempting for leaders to forgo purpose for short-term profit delivery.

But it's abundantly clear that leaders need to ensure that their emphasis on employee experience links to a larger purpose – after all, that’s what we’ve established employees are really looking for. Bold CEOs know purpose is the foundation for the emotional connection employees need, as well as the attraction for the best talent.

Now, as physical isolation becomes a long-term barrier to fostering connections, it’s more important than ever for companies to ramp up their emotional intelligence, and communicate that their purpose is more than just profit – that their employees have a wider significance beyond simply performing a job.

In the world we now live in, purpose is ultimate connector, the bridge every company needs to cross the physical distance that has become a part of our daily working lives. Done right, purpose makes it possible for companies to connect to employees no matter their post code, and ensure that there is a sound foundation for growth both internally and externally.