For several years I have served on the board of a wonderful non-profit organization in Cleveland called Towards Employment whose mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment. Many of the individuals served start with few marketable job skills, and have other barriers to employment. However, once through the Towards Employment programs, and combined with other services provided there, most of these individuals find jobs that begin to change their lives in a very positive way.

From their nationally recognized Executive Director, Jill Rizika, through all the staff, the Towards Employment mission is at the center of activities and conversations. I’ve never met a more dedicated and passionate team. They are selfless and tireless advocates for their program participants. That dedication shows in the results. Each year at our board retreats we invite participant grads to tell us about their experiences. Their stories are inspiring, often describing starting from poverty or incarceration and ending in finding a job as well as self-respect. I feel honored and privileged to be affiliated with this organization.

Interestingly, the organization has very little turnover. While I have never conducted an employee engagement survey of the staff, I believe they are happy because of the mission they serve and the impact they are able to make in their roles. Even though this example is with a non-profit, corporations also recognize the importance of having a purpose beyond profit. Here are some examples.

In a 2016 Workday article titled 6 Priorities CEO’s Care Most About  the authors cited a KPMG survey of CEO’s who said they recognized the importance of having an attractive culture in order to attract and retain talent. According to the study, “Having a purpose that employees can align to, providing the skills and opportunities to learn and grow, and building an inclusive culture are all critical to attracting and retaining the best talent, which in turn helps drive innovation initiatives that drive the business forward.”

Today I read an article in Crain’s Cleveland magazine about the difficulties CPA firms are having attracting and retaining accounting grads. In the article, Mark Ross, Market Leader for the Lake Erie region of PWC discusses the importance of purpose. “A company’s success today has to involve more than the bottom line,”- Mark Ross, PWC Click To Tweet “And I’m convinced that delivering sustainable profit requires a clear and consistent linkage between a firm’s purpose and the strategy for people.”

Recently I attended a presentation by Louis Efron, author of How to Find a Job, Career and Life You Love – a Journey to Purpose, Fulfillment and Life Happiness, and self-described Voice of Purpose. Efron said that purpose is the reason an organization exists. He went on to say that great organizations have each of the following:

Mission – What an organization is meant to accomplish
Vision – Where an organization is headed, their destination
Purpose – Why an organization exists, and the single most important tool that will lead to success

Efron provided support for his claim, quoting statistics from Firms of Endearment that purpose driven companies experienced 1646% growth between 1996 and 2011, nearly 11X companies of the composite S&P, which experienced 157% growth.

For organization leaders the message is clear. Leading with purpose is good for employees and, therefore, good for business.

For help in clarifying your purpose, and designing and implementing purposeful talent programs in your organization, please contact us.

To contribute to Towards Employment, please click here.



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