Sense of purpose key to retaining talent

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Katie Hart of Berwick Partners

Business leaders must focus on their company’s purpose, if they are to attract and keep the best people, according to a leading executive search firm.

Attracting and retaining top talent remains an ongoing priority for businesses, according to Berwick Partners who report a growing trend for top-level executives seeking a tangible personal connection when joining a business.

“Business purpose is all about identifying and defining what an organisation stands for and its ‘reason for being’, and has the power to drive employee satisfaction and engagement,” said Katie Hart, a consultant in Consumer Practice (pictured).

“As such, purpose and its impact on effective talent strategies, should be at the top of the agenda for business leaders.

“This requires a genuine and sustained leadership commitment for it to be meaningfully embedded within the company culture, to become the ‘natural’ way of running the business. Supporting purpose at the top signals advocacy, credibility and permission for employees to act.

“Senior leaders can help their teams understand that what they do has an impact, and create an environment where employees feel valued and invested in. Purpose-driven leaders will inspire purpose-driven employees, who will be more motivated, engaged, empowered, satisfied and, importantly, loyal.”

Purpose can be a highly effective tool to optimise employee engagement so that talent chooses to stay

By way of explanation, she went on: “There is a growing expectation that business will need to take the lead on driving change on socioeconomic issues. Leaders therefore need courage and ambition to set the direction for the organisation that will catalyse change and make a difference to its people, the environment and society.

By creating and promoting purpose, leaders bring the actions and decisions of all employees under a core principle. It is important that purpose is ‘owned’ by the entire organisation, but first and foremost driven by senior leaders.”

Companies that can articulate and demonstrate a purpose-driven culture send a clear, strong message of intent to the market, she added, cautioning that purpose must reflect the identity of the organisation.

It is not enough for companies to create the impression of purpose, but essential that business leaders are brave and build purpose that is genuine, relevant and felt throughout the organisation.

“Purpose-driven executive talent within a business is what ultimately drives the bottom line,” she added.

“Purpose can be a highly effective tool to optimise employee engagement so that talent chooses to stay, and also delivers a very powerful message to an increasing number of candidates who are making fundamentally different choices as they progress their careers.

“Candidates, and not just millennials, are exploring different paths as they look for greater meaning in work. They are looking beyond financial return, for businesses that offer them the opportunity to align personal values with their professional achievements.”

Berwick Partners is an international executive search and recruitment firm, specialising in senior management and director level roles across private, public and not-for-profit sectors.