Passion + Purpose = An Engaged Workforce

Gallup conducted a workplace poll 2014 and found less than a third of employees were engaged in their jobs. Gallup defined an engaged employee as one who is enthusiastic about performing their job and committed to being successful at it.

Imperative inc. sought to identify those in the workforces that approached their job as a source of personal fulfillment and a way for them to help others. The Imperative survey found 28 percent of the workforce qualified as these purpose-oriented workers, and these individuals produced a highly positive impact on their organizations.

Purpose oriented workers in comparison to their peers are:

  • 50 percent more likely to be in leadership positions
  • 47 percent more likely to be promoted by their employers
  • Expected to stick with their jobs 20 percent longer
  • 64 percent more likely to have higher levels of fulfillment from their work

The value of purpose-oriented workers are they are self-motivated role models who see their work as making a difference in the world. They want to grow both personally and professionally to support this goal. These workers are often described as dynamic and curious, embracing changing dynamics in the workplace as an opportunity for improvement.

I have had the honor to work with purpose-oriented workers on Michigan Tech’s campus, which include: Mike Meyer, Ed Laitila, Glen Archer, and Susan Liebau, just to name a few. Mike heads up the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning. A successful high school teacher and Physics lab supervisor and instructor, he now leads a team whose mission is to work with faculty to develop transformational learning experiences in the classrooms and labs across campus. Ed brings his contagious passion for learning to each materials science lab he enters. Glen develops and executes lessons in electrical engineering that bring clarity and understanding to complex engineering concepts. Susan leads a team at the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success that helps students discover their talents and interests, in the midst of personal and academic challenges. Each of these purpose-oriented workers also share another trait, modesty and gratitude for the support of their teams and peers.

The Imperative study found the workforce of each industry contains at least 16 percent purpose-oriented workers. These workers tend to be educated beyond high school and increase in numbers with age. Researchers have also found that these unique workers had parents that spoke favorably about their careers.

The millennial generation is filling the workforce. Known for being confident, self-expressive, liberal, open to change and upbeat, they also have the nickname of Generation Me! As the begin having children of their own, a recent study found their top priorities are: being a good parent and having a successful marriage. This is an opportunity for them to develop themselves as purpose-oriented workers through their actions as a parent. Generation Z is the next to enter college and the workforce. Known for being conscientious, hard-working and concerned about the future, this digital generation has the foundation to become the first purpose-oriented generation.

Corporate America and American society at large will benefit from developing more purpose-oriented workers. The cited role models illustrate that passion and purpose can help students build their careers around the three sources of fulfillment: developing meaningful relationships, impacting the lives of others, and personal and professional growth. The opportunity lies in the other 72 percent!


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