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Topic: Purpose

Purpose in Action

Companies that connect their employees to purpose

Every company has a purpose, it just wouldn’t exist without one.

Your company’s purpose doesn’t just state what you hope to accomplish, but declares who you are, and why you exist to the world. And understanding that is even more important to your employees than to customers. So how do the brands we love and connect to create those same feelings for their employees? Check out how these companies use their purpose to bring out the best in their employees.

Partners, not employees.

From the beginning, Starbucks has been dedicated to creating a company not only focused on coffee, but community. To build on that sense of community we know and love today, they created a purpose all who entered their doors could connect with. “To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” And it doesn’t stop there. Starbucks employees are not referred to as such, but as partners in the company. They also go to great lengths to ensure that every business decision is looked at through the lens of humanity. 

A prime example of how they put their purpose into action is with the opening of the first US sign language Starbucks in Washington, DC. Dedicated to using American Sign Language as a form of communication, this location was created to better serve the large deaf community in DC. Without a strong purpose and mission as the driving force, a store such as this would not likely exist. 

A sense of belonging.

In 2007, Airbnb began as a resource to help travelers around the world feel like they weren’t just renting a house, but a home. Soon, the company discovered they were much bigger than that. “Belong Anywhere” is the company’s promise to help customers and employees feel like they belong with Airbnb. To represent this promise, the company created a new brand identity, including a new symbol to represent this shared purpose. From a globetrotting customer in Panama, to heads down employees in the office, they’ve created a community where individuals feel welcome, respected, and appreciated no matter where they might be.

More than maufacturing.

It’s easier for some companies to communicate a meaningful purpose – for example, healthcare organizations save lives, whereas some manufacturing companies may struggle to articulate why their products make a difference. Fortunately, John Deere doesn’t have that problem. When the company first started in 1837, John’s purpose wasn’t just to sell tractors. He believed that the purpose of every piece of equipment they sold was “ to help feed the world.” Today, John Deere connects their employees to their beginning and overall purpose on their first day of employment. Every onboarding employee at John Deere is given a small green tractor to symbolize how their new job is bigger than just farming equipment. It’s a simple gift with a powerful promise. 

Disrupting the industry.

Virgin has become one of the most desirable brands in the world by disrupting every industry they touch and that’s captured in their purpose: changing business for good. At Virgin, the driving force behind their purpose is simple, if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business. At Virgin Money in the UK, this is deeply rooted in the culture and decision making across the bank. Their CEO makes sure that all business strategies aim to ensure that customers, employees, and even shareholders benefit in a balanced manner. As a result, their employee engagement scores almost doubled, and customer satisfaction rates shot up. By putting their employees first for these employees, they trust that the chain reaction will carry on to customers. Changing how they do business around the world. 

Discover how another Virgin company puts their employees first by watching the Virgin Trains case study

Purpose is a powerful thing.  Simon Sinek says, “to have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others.” It’s the role of any leader to ensure their employees know exactly what the company’s purpose is and how their individual responsibilities contribute to it. Because when purpose is put into action, employees work with a passion and commitment that customers can feel.

Learn more about why finding purpose is essential to your workplace culture by downloading the Global Culture Report

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