The evidence behind values and purpose

Rosie Warin
29th Jan 2016

“Ultimately, the companies that perform exceptionally well clearly demonstrate their mission, culture, and values”.
–Forbes Magazine, “The Best Places to Work in 2016” (December, 2015)

If you’ve been paying attention to the business media over the last couple of years, you’ll know by now the importance of ‘purpose’ – ensuring your organisation has a clear impact on society beyond making a profit, and a clear set of guiding values that create a positive, ethical culture. But what’s the hard evidence to support this notion?

We’ve cherry picked some of the best stats out there. Stats that put forwards a business case – both in terms of winning and keeping customers, and attracting, motivating and retaining staff – that even the most hard nosed executives can’t ignore.

Last year, we learned how purpose and values impact your customer’s decisions – 50% of people now seek to buy from values-driven companies – and 31% will spend more to do so. These figures go up to 60% and 38% for those under 35.

In terms of the employee engagement case – we learned that 42% only want to work for an organisation that is ethical and is actively benefitting society – rising to 62% of those under 35. So if an organisation isn’t engaging in this work, they will only have access to around one third of the next generation talent pool. This stark statistic begs the question – where does that put that organisation in ten, twenty years time?

Furthermore, we discovered that 44% would choose a workplace that had a meaningful purpose beyond profit over salary and 36% would work harder for a purpose driven company.

Now, the urgency of this work has been highlighted in our own research, published this month in HR magazine in collaboration with our friends at Unilever and Telefonica. This research finds that over half of all workers (56%) would like to – or are seeking to – leave their work for a similar organisation that has stronger purpose.

The findings also show that ‘purpose’ can no longer be achieved with bolt-on CSR or sustainability initiatives; 76% agreed that organisations should have ethics, values and sustainability across all areas of operations.

For us, the evidence points towards one conclusion. Organisations that want to thrive – and maybe even survive – in the next decade must seek to find a compelling purpose and set of values, live them authentically across their operations and culture, then communicate them clearly and authentically to their customers and stakeholders.

And that’s what we’re here to help with.