The Significance of Purpose at Work and the Role of Corporate Giving 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the significance of purpose in the workplace, leading employees to re-evaluate their lives and prioritise deeper meaning and fulfilment in their work. In response, organisations are turning to corporate giving initiatives to help employees find purpose in their professional lives. This article explores the importance of purpose at work, the impact of COVID-19 on employee perspectives, and the role of corporate giving initiatives in fostering a sense of purpose within the workplace.

The Significance of Purpose at Work

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted employees to reevaluate their work-life balance and priorities. Confronting the challenges of remote work, economic uncertainty, and the fragility of life itself, individuals have begun questioning the significance of their contributions and the intrinsic purpose of their work. At present, 85% of employees are actively seeking more purpose within their roles.

From an organisational perspective, this is incredibly significant. A consistent body of research demonstrates that employees who find purpose in their work are more engaged, motivated, and resilient. Possessing a sense of purpose affords individuals a clear direction, an inherent drive to excel, and a deeper connection to their organisation’s mission. A recent Gallup study found that employees who strongly agree with having a sense of purpose are 50% more productive and 54% more engaged.

Considering that employees spend a substantial portion of their lives devoted to work — an average of 90,000 hours over a lifetime — it comes as no surprise that individuals aspire to find work that is purposeful. The innate desire to connect with something larger than oneself and make a tangible difference in the lives of others serves as a catalyst for heightened motivation and resilience, empowering employees to persevere in the face of adversity.

Generational shifts have further emphasised the importance of purpose at work. In the 20th century, economic recovery and stability were the two main goals for most employees and organisations. It was common for Baby Boomers to land secure, stable jobs and stay at them for their entire careers. Some of these jobs may have been monotonous, but they provided for the family and ensured their future. However, each generation’s need to work is conditioned by the moment in history in which they live. Millennials, who now dominate the global workforce, prioritise purpose over pay checks. Meaningful work has therefore become essential for organisations wanting to remain desirable in an intensely competitive — and increasingly international — labour market.

Corporate Giving as a Catalyst for Purpose

To address this need for purpose and enhance employee engagement, organisations are increasingly looking to leverage corporate giving initiatives. Skilled workplace volunteering, donation matching programs and unique employee-led social responsibility projects empower employees to make a difference in their communities and contribute to positive social change. Engaging in philanthropic activities allows employees to utilise their skills and resources for the greater good of the communities they work within.

By championing charitable causes, organisations not only demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and community involvement but also foster an environment where employees take immense pride in working for a company that transcends the pursuit of profit. These initiatives strengthen the connection between employees and their work, as well as the company’s mission.

The Benefits of Corporate Giving: Fostering Employee Engagement and Retention

Employees who find purpose in their work are more engaged and committed to their organisations success. They develop a stronger emotional connection to the company’s mission and values, leading to increased loyalty and higher retention rates. A Deloitte survey found that 73% of employees in purpose-driven organisations are engaged, compared to only 23% in non-purpose-driven organisations. Engaged employees also experience a reduction in job-related stress and absenteeism.

The positive impact of corporate giving programs extends to company culture, talent acquisition, and retention. In a competitive job market, employees seek organisations that align with their personal values. Studies show that 72% of employees are more likely to apply for a job at a socially responsible organisation, while purpose-driven companies have 40% higher levels of workforce retention, with corporate giving initiatives significantly reducing turnover rates.

Building the Business Case: Measuring the ROI of Corporate Giving

Determining the return on investment (ROI) of corporate giving initiatives is crucial. Executives face the challenge of balancing demands for corporate social responsibility with the pressure to maximise short-term profits. Organisations have historically struggled with how to adequately assess the business value that corporate giving efforts provide. Corporate giving is typically presented in terms of its ‘social value’ only. This can make it difficult for leadership to effectively weigh corporate giving initiatives against other business needs and to properly understand the relative importance of social value to the company’s overall economic value. However, when approached strategically, corporate charitable contributions yield numerous benefits for the company.

Aside from the aforementioned benefits to employee engagement, retention and productivity, effective corporate giving initiatives increase brand awareness, expand business networks, and foster pride among clients, employees and beneficiaries. At the moment, measuring the ROI of these benefits, however, can be incredibly challenging and time-consuming. To unlock the immense potential for positive impact that corporations and their workforces can have on society, accurate and accessible measurement of the ROI of corporate giving is crucial.

In summary, the COVID-19 pandemic has ignited a global search for purpose in the workplace, prompting employees to seek greater meaning and fulfilment from their jobs and organisations. Corporate giving initiatives serve as powerful catalysts for employees to find purpose in their work, fostering engagement, loyalty, and innovation. By embracing corporate giving and encouraging employees to make a positive impact, organisations create a culture that empowers individuals to thrive and make a meaningful difference in the world.

Author: Liam Higgins, Chief Operating Officer at VOLI.

VOLI is a start-up on a mission to revolutionise social impact on a global scale. An all-in-one platform empowering individuals, companies, and causes to do more good, more often. Making doing good easy, measuring it even easier and rewards you for your efforts. No matter who you are, or how you give.


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