Building a culture of purpose

Since the pandemic has spread around the world, there is more and more talk about rethinking the company as an organization. Net income is not a sufficient condition for the sustainability of a company. The other key condition is the well-being of employees. Read on for insights on how to promote a culture of purpose.
February 04, 2021

Article by:

Patrick Vieljeux
CEO, Causedirect

3min read


Since the pandemic has spread around the world, there is more and more talk about rethinking the company as an organization. In fact, this was an issue long before COVID began its ravages.

The problem is that we didn’t want to address it.

It was so much easier to focus on results and performance.
Wasn’t that what Milton Friedman taught us? That the company should first serve the interests of the shareholder-owners, putting results first?

The reality is that the crisis has only brought to light an obvious fact that we have deliberately neglected: that net income is not a sufficient condition for the sustainability of a company. The other condition is the well-being of employees: that your teams feel committed and motivated at work, and that their work has a meaning.

Here’s how to build a meaningful corporate culture, in 3 steps:

1. Define your purpose

This is about defining why you do what you do.

Go deep.

Keep asking yourself the question “Why do I do what I do?” until you can find what defines the essence of your business. Or, in Simon Sinek’s words, the “just cause” you want it to be embodied in.

Once found, you can focus on defining the strategy that will allow you to create a positive and sustainable impact on society – which, in my opinion, is the ultimate value that your company must create.

This strategy should clearly include your main objective, around which all your staff will mobilize to achieve it.

2. Mobilize your employees around this purpose and your values

To mobilize your employees, you need to inspire and motivate them. A just cause is one inspiring example, aiming to achieve the sustainable development goals is another inspiring cause.

To mobilize your team, we advise to involve employees in the very definition of your strategy. You can do so by asking your teams which societal issues they consider most important, and what values they are most attached to.

Depending on the size of your organization, it may not be necessary to involve everyone at the beginning.
Remember Pareto’s principle? Also known as the 80/20 principle, the Pareto law describes the rule that about 80% of effects are the product of 20% of causes.

If we apply the Pareto principle to how to mobilize employees, then 20% of your employees could be sufficient to spread the engagement strategy you wish to deploy within your organization.

You can mobilize your employees through workshops, targeted communication, and by creating an internal team supported by an expert in coaching and value creation. We highly recommend the experts Zeina Abdo and Thierry Roussin, whom we are lucky enough to have as partners.

As for motivation, it can be done through gamification.

Research has shown that many problems have been solved this way, such as hackathons, for example.

Organizing a hackathon with the objective of working towards a SDG target, or reducing the company’s carbon footprint, could be mobilizing, empowering and motivating initiatives.

3. Empower employees to act

I think we need to change the culture from “thinking for people” to “helping people think for themselves,” and empower teams to act.

In order to foster employee engagement and empowerment, you may want to consider having a toolset to centralize and keep track of your initiatives. A community engagement platform can enable your employees to carry out your sustainability and impact strategy . Community engagement platforms enable our teams to act for the common good, in a way that is both aligned with your employees’ values and with the cause you want to promote.

While many organizations immediately jump to step #3 and implement a platform for community engagement, steps 1 and 2 are fundamental.

Without defining your purpose and empowering your collaborators by letting them take the initiative, hardly your community engagement efforts will have the intended effects.

To sum up

To build a culture full of meaning, it is necessary to have :

– Time,
– A willingness to do so,
– A clear and defined strategy.

You may also want to:

– Communicate well and clearly,
– Involve your employees,
– Make your teams accountable,
– Mobilize employees around a societal project that makes sense,
– Motivate teams to act, and
– Give your employees the tools to express the meaning they want to give to their life and work.


Patrick Vieljeux


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