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Kiwis want to feel a sense of purpose at work

Kiwis want to feel a sense of purpose at work

Employees want to be given a sense of purpose at work and know how their contribution makes a difference, according to recruiting experts Hays.

According to findings in the latest Hays Journal, the recruiter says that the value in employee engagement terms of a competitive salary and perks has reduced and been replaced by a desire to work with purpose and make a difference.

“Employee engagement was traditionally driven by a good salary and attractive benefits, but today most people see these as a given,” says Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand. “Instead they look at what an organisation is working towards and known for. Crucially, they want to know that, as an employee, they will understand what they are working towards and how they make a difference, which gives them a greater sense of purpose.”

This shared sense of purpose was also identified in Hays’ report, Staff Engagement: Ideas for action, as crucial to employee engagement. So much so that 94% of employees said a clear understanding of how their role helps the organisation achieve its objectives is a ‘very important’ or ‘important’ engagement factor for them. What’s more, 26% said they would look for another job if they did not have this understanding, while 51% ‘might’ look elsewhere.

65% would go above and beyond if they understood how their role helps the organisation achieve its objectives and a further 29% would ‘maybe’ do the same.

“Employees who understand what they are working towards feel a greater sense of purpose and that’s a powerful driver of engagement,” says Nick. “They feel they are making a difference and are working towards something that matters. They’re also far more likely to support the organisation’s objectives because they understand them. They’re given ownership in the organisation’s success since they know what is expected of them and what their part is in achieving the desired outcome.

“In contrast, organisations that don’t communicate employees’ role in achieving organisational goals create an atmosphere of uncertainty where senior managers and executives are seen to rule from above. A ‘them and us’ culture is created,” Nick said.

Case study: KPMG
One company that has achieved higher levels of engagement among its employees by redefining the meaning and purpose of their work is KPMG. Having enjoyed high staff morale for many years, the firm was keen to understand what was behind this trend. Feedback from its annual employee survey had flagged up one particularly strong driver – a sense that people saw their job as having special meaning rather than simply being a job.

Through their firm-wide Higher Purpose initiative, stories were collected from everyone, highlighting examples of inspirational work already being done. They included individuals who, when asked what they do at KPMG, proffered a range of responses that included having helped fight cybercrime, driven ethical sourcing standards in fashion, provided financial support for the farming industry, and coordinated literacy programmes for low-income families.

Six months after Higher Purpose was introduced, the number of KPMG employees stating that the firm was a great place to work had risen to 85%, up from the previous year’s 82%. A year on, this figure had risen to 89%. People are inspired by a sense of purpose at work, which not only heightens employee engagement and loyalty, but also fosters a personal sense of pride in their job and their organisation.

For more please see the latest Hays Journal, available at Hays’ report Staff Engagement: Ideas for action can be viewed at

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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