Employment experts advise: Don’t abandon your purpose in a crisis

In these unprecedented times, we have seen organisations go to extraordinary lengths to survive. Covid-19 has fundamentally shifted the way we work, and the way organisations engage with people. However, with so much change happening, at such a rapid pace, organisations must remain true to their purpose. 

In our recent ‘Adapting is thriving in a post-pandemic world’ virtual event, we were joined by leading thinkers on the future of work, Matthew Taylor UK Government Adviser and Chief Executive of the RSA and Professor Jonathan Trevor. During the event, it was highlighted that in the current environment, leaders need to be asking: What is our purpose? What is it that we do and why do we do it? And, why is it more important than ever before?

You can view the event on demand by registering for access at the bottom of the page; meanwhile, here are some of the key points covered on the power of purpose in a crisis. 


What is purpose?


“Every company, every type of organisation, is conceived with a purpose in mind and that purpose is enduring, whatever it may be.” 

Professor Jonathan Trevor 

As we have explored previously, a purposed-based business is completely focused on a simple and direct purpose. This shapes the organisational structure, the types of products offered, the promotions that are run, the processes to deliver tasks, and the investment of profits made.
In fact, during our virtual event, Jonathan highlighted that “profit is a measure of the success of the company in performing its purpose, it is an expression of how effective purpose is converted into performance.” It should articulate what a company does, why it matters, and who should care.

A well-defined purpose, combined with a business structure that supports it, boosts engagement with both internal and external audiences. Those who are inspired by the business purpose will also be determined to achieve it, which will, in turn, help with attracting and hiring the best available talent. 


Why is purpose so important in a crisis? 

“All that work you did on values, all that work you did on purpose - this is where it matters. As an organisation, whatever you have to do, however tough it is, it's really important that everybody hears that you're trying to apply the work you put into your purpose and values in these circumstances and that it wasn't just for a sunny day.”

Matthew Taylor

Too often in the past, company values have been put aside during times of adversity to go into ‘survival’ mode. However, Matthew Taylor encourages businesses to: “See the challenge through the prism of your values.” He continued to emphasise that if you do this, even the hardest choices will be made more palatable. “People will engage more if they believe that you're staying true to your values.”

“If the only way to save your organisation is to abandon your purpose, you're not going to save your organisation.”

Ultimately, if you set your purpose aside during hard times, you risk creating a sense of disillusionment among your employees and stakeholders and this is something Matthew warned businesses against, reminding us that people will remember the way you respond to the crisis. 


How to harness the power of purpose

“The power of a company's purpose is not the degree to which it is valued merely internally but the degree to which it's valued externally.”

Professor Jonathan Trevor


More than ever, companies need to communicate meaningfully what their purpose is. They need to answer the questions: Why should people care about your purpose? Why should people want to be a part of it? Why should employees be motivated, engaged, and committed to it?

Jonathan highlighted that there will be a real need for professionals with transformer skill sets and capabilities to ensure alignment between purpose, strategy, and organisation to drive success in the future. 

If you would like to hear more from our experts, you can watch our ‘Adapting is thriving in a post-pandemic world’ virtual event on demand by registering for access below:

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