Building a Company, or Building a Sense of Purpose for Your Employees?

Siemon Claeys

Account Manager at Intuo Hi! I'm Siemon. I'm passionate about creating high-performing cultures and maximizing retention.

More than ever, we hear questions and complaints like "why am I working" or "I don't feel happy working for my company." It is especially prominent among the millennials who hold on to the dreams of becoming something bigger than themselves. They do not want to work for a company that they do not have the sense of self in, that they have to drag themselves to every morning.

In the recently viral-going Harvard Commencement Speech 2017, Chairman and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said these. And it gave so many of us a hit in a face with the dazzling word - purpose.

Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Purpose is what creates happiness.

Purpose is the reason why we exist, in society, in organisations, in the ever-fast-changing world we live in now.

So what exactly is the purpose that Millennials desire in the workplace?

  1. Something bigger and greater

    Millennials want to change the world for the greater. But the problem is, a lot of them have little to know about what their organisations are trying to accomplish and how they fit into the big picture. An employee should first be purpose-aware before he can be purpose-driven. Research has shown that employees tend to work harder, stay more engaged and make more responsible decisions when they understand their jobs' bigger purpose. Hence, companies should continuously create opportunities for the employees to discover purpose so that they can explore ways to start changing the world around them.

    "The challenge for our generation is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose," said Mark Zuckerberg. Same applies to companies in this generation - to create an environment where every employee discovers, recognises and pursues their purposes in the organisation. Organisations that focus beyond profits and instil a culture of purpose are more likely to find long-term success.

    Mark Zuckerberg at the Harvard Commencement Speech

    "The challenge for our generation is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose."
  2. Going further, together

    Now that the employees are aware of their individual goals, it is important to align them with the company's vision. There is one crucial question that millennials always ask: "How long do I see myself staying at this company?"

    Facebook has the vision of empowering people, enabling sharing and connecting the world. Google has the vision to provide access to the world’s information in one click. Ambitious as these vision statements may sound, they give the employees a goal far more than what their individual jobs can achieve. It is exciting, isn't it?

    If working for an organisation that enables the employees to achieve their personal goals, while at the same time immersing themselves in an environment that they can make an impact collectively with their coworkers, they are more likely to stay longer. The sense of self and satisfaction will keep propelling them forward. Retention will no longer be a concern for a lot of companies if they can ignite the desire in the employees to stay and achieve the long-term goals of their companies.

  3. Always growing

    T. Harv Eker, the author of the book 'Secrets of the Millionaire Mind' once said:

    If you are not growing, you are dying.

    Threatening it might sound, it is the hard truth in the working world today. Opportunity to learn and grow is rated as the most important factor that millennials look for when applying for a job.

    While the goal of growth is universal, the path to it is not always so. Managers should focus more on the individual strengths of their employees, and implement talent development plans that are tailored to different types of employees. Millennials want to challenge and be challenged; they want to learn as many new things as possible because life gets boring when it is all about the routine and the mundane. Therefore, creating opportunities outside of their job functions and always providing them with constructive feedback would keep them engaged and nurture their growth.


Millennials are undeniably the future of the companies; hence, employers can never neglect the impacts they are able to make within the organisations. Apart from the high proportion of the workforce they make up of, millennials are undoubtedly influential. Hence, employers have to embrace the fact and adapt to their needs, so that they can influence other co-workers when they are fuelled by passion and purpose.

It is never about only using the employees to grow the company; it is also about tapping into the company's resources to grow the individuals. As much as they want to paint their future, they need the right macro-environment to grow in. They need not only the purpose they define for themselves, but also purpose greater than what they can imagine.

Build a future-proof company with, and for your employees!