Soaring Over Purpose Gaps with Incredible Company Culture

Ed Frauenheim

Author

Over the last several years, researchers and companies have proved that a sense of purpose affects performance. It feeds peoples’ desire to be part of something bigger than themselves, and inspires new inventions and better ways of doing things. But creating purpose that connects with everyone across an entire organization is easier said than done. Our research discovered that a barrier to innovation that trips up even well meaning organizations has to do with front-line folks experiencing much less purpose than others higher up in the company. And if employees feel they’re not sharing in the company’s mission and excitement, they quickly feel excluded from innovation as well.

We see this all the time in employee comment data. Employees are much more likely to innovate if they feel they are part of something incredible. We mean that literally. Highly engaged employees used phrases like “incredibly hardworking environment,” “incredible energy that is motivating” and “incredible company journey.”

Unfortunately, those on the front line often don’t experience the same level of awesomeness. Employees in roles like sales associate, customer service representative and field service technician can feel left out because they’re missing out on rewards due to their personal background or their position, or based on day-to-day negative experiences.

Unfair rewards, in particular, can undermine purpose and inspiration on the front lines. Consider this employee comment:

“When the rate of pay goes up and someone has been here for 8 years and a new person who has been here a year is then getting almost the same rate of pay as the person who has been working her for 8 years. That is not right. The people who have been here much longer should also get a substantial increase to make it fair. It really burns the people who have been here a long time to know that someone brand new with not a lot of experience is making almost the same pay.”

The picture here is of people whose energy is going into burning anger and resentment, rather than flashes of insight for how to move the organization forward. Perceived inequities in pay or perks, in other words, can prevent people in the trenches from tapping into the deeper purpose of the organization, and therefore dampen their creativity and commitment.

We also found that employees with certain characteristics and roles are at risk for feeling marginalized. These include long-tenured employees and remote workers. Employees with 16-20 years of tenure are 20% less likely to have meaningful opportunities for innovation than employees at the organization for less than two years. As this statistic suggests, it’s easy for leaders to take their long-standing staffers for granted, or to give up on keeping those folks fired up.

It’s also easy to lose sight of employees who are physically out of sight. People that mention being remote or in the field are 56% more likely to feel excluded from innovation. You can hear the sense of being neglected in this employee’s comment:

“The company is growing and changing very rapidly… My hope is that management doesn’t forget the fact that the field personnel that work here have a large combined amount of years of knowledge, that needs to be called upon when making decisions that affect matters in the field.”

The most successful organizations overcome leader blind spots and connect everyone to the mission. And, as a result, they see innovation levels take off. We found that when employees say their work has “special meaning,” rather than being “just a job,” they are 56% more likely to experience a lot of innovation opportunities. Similarly, when people feel they “make a difference” at work, they are 64% more likely to be engaged in high levels of innovation.

The Gospel of Good Food  at Wegmans
In a previous blog post we shared the story of Jody Wood, who helped bring cauliflower rice to Wegmans. It’s clear that she, and Wegmans, soar right over the purpose gap. For Wood, the grocery chain’s mantra of serving customers and helping them live healthier lives is like manna from heaven. She eats it up, even as she helps others cook up new vegetarian dishes.

She explains, “The customers are just really happy. I have them come back all the time and tell me they tried something new with their family and their family absolutely loved it, and they’re making it every week and they thank me, and it’s very satisfying because I absolutely love to help people.”

In fact, Wood sees her work at Wegmans as a kind of ministry. Prior to coming to the store, she earned a master’s degree at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. She didn’t pursue a traditional chaplain job but sees spreading the gospel of good food in the same light. “I feel like I’m doing chaplaincy,” she says. “Not with the Bible and God. I’m serving the needs of others by helping them become healthy.”

As this comment suggests, purpose is palpable from the Wegmans C-suite to the meal station at which Jody Wood works. And because meaning is shared equally, Wood and Wegmans were able to bring a powerful new product to the company and its customers.

For more, read the whole story in our paper, The Five Hidden Barriers of Innovation.

Ed Frauenheim

Author

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces™ in Asia by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2022 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 130,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:
1.  The criteria we evaluate

  •  85% concerned with Trust and Maximizing Human Potential and
  • 15% concerned with everything else

2.  Where the data comes from

  • 100% Trust Index for organizations with less than 100 employees
  • 75% based on the Trust Index survey analytics and 25% based on responses to the Culture Audit for organizations with more than 100 employees.
For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees