Drawing a connection between innovation and workplace purpose often eludes companies looking to hire the best people for their teams. Let’s take a look at what needs to happen to make this possible.

The workforce is changing. Recruitment specialists and HR professionals are writing about the importance of instilling a sense of purpose in the workforce. Why are they interested in this? Because employees with a sense of purpose have a higher amount of engagement, do better work, are better company ambassadors, and more. This is particularly true if you want to attract millennials to your workplace since 84% of millennials are seeking purposeful work.

However, not every organization is able to draw the connection between innovation and workplace purpose, but their relationship is entirely symbiotic. For example, companies whose employees have a sense of purpose are motivated and eager to share their ideas to improve things and find new ways to help an organization meet their mission. And companies that ask for employee ideas are inviting those employees to invest and participate in the purpose and mission of a company.

But what needs to happen in order to make this possible?

  1. Defined Core Values & Purpose. Sometimes one of the reasons that employees don’t feel a sense of purpose is because an organization hasn’t developed their own core values and purpose. Once a company spends some time defining what drives them and why, it will help drive decision-making, invite buy-in from employees, and beyond. Of course, communications is a big part of this. Everyone has to know what the purpose is in order to rally behind it.
  2. Invitation to Collaboration & Participate. The more that an employee feels personally invested in a company’s purpose, the more likely they are to work hard and serve it. So inviting employees’ input from multiple departments, empowering collaboration and participation – these are all going to maximize an employee’s sense of purpose and organizations are going to see more output from their employees.  This also is the permission needed to fuel innovation: to share ideas, build on the ideas of others and become stewards for meaningful change within an organization.
  3. Tell Stories. Perhaps the most powerful tool in the purpose-driven organization’s toolbox is the ability to tell stories. Tell stories that embody the company’s purpose. Tell stories of an employee who has served the company’s purpose. The companies that are masters of narrative are going to be the ones that most successfully give their employees a sense of purpose.

To learn more about purpose in the workplace and how this relates to innovation, download IdeaScale’s infographic on the subject.

By Rob Hoehn

About the author

Rob Hoehn is the co-founder and CEO of IdeaScale: the largest open innovation software platform in the world. Hoehn launched crowdsourcing software as part of the open government initiative and IdeaScale’s robust portfolio now includes many other industry notables, such as EA Sports, NBC, NASA, Xerox and many others. Prior to IdeaScale, Hoehn was Vice President of Client Services at Survey Analytics.