opinionBy Vumile Msweli
Many employees drive their careers whilst disengaged. Walking into work to do the bare minimum, keep their head down, collect their salary and exhale in gratitude when the weekend arrives, sigh in despair when it ends and Monday rears her ugly head.
Then they repeat the cycle all over again. These symptoms are a clear indication of disengagement.
Recent studies show that 68 per cent of employees are disengaged at work. Contrary to popular belief, this disengagement can’t be accredited to an employee’s desire for more money.
Leigh Branham’s research indicates that despite the belief of managers that 89 per cent of their employees who leave their employ are seeking more financial remuneration in actual fact only 12 per cent leave for more money.
The reality is many corporates spend a great deal of energy, time and finances in upskilling staff in technical competence.
This is important, but the reality is that more soft skill engagements are what are required to increase employee engagement. History has shown that under great leadership staff turnover is lower, employees are more engaged and profits increase.
Purpose in my humble opinion is the antidote to disengagement. Legacy building leaders must give purpose to their organisation and its staff.
Impactful leaders demonstrate what is possible, they sell a vision of what can be accomplished and gain buy-in from staff thus invigorating people to excel in the menial day-to-day tasks in order to make that vision a reality.
I recall hearing an anecdote of former American President JF Kennedy walking the corridors of NASA. He bumped into a gentleman sweeping the corridor. “What do you do here at NASA?” he politely asked.
The reply was: “Mr President I am helping to put a man on the moon.” The gentleman was a janitor. I am not sure of the truth of this tale but it clearly illustrates the power of purpose.
The gentleman saw his role not as his daily mundane tasks, but rather the purpose for why his organisation existed and his role in fulfilling its purpose.
In modern society we see organisations whose purpose is so clearly defined that the narrative drives hopeful candidates from all over the world to its doors hoping to work there.
These include the likes of Google whose mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” or Apple whose vision states: “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex.”
The purpose is clear, and lived throughout the organisation, not just a poster on the wall but a tangible part of the culture.
Gaining purpose engages employees and calls on them to bring their best selves to the organisation.
Imagine the shift in perspective when a telecommunications worker knew that their purpose was to connect people across the globe, or a waitress was aware that her work brings nourishment and refreshment to others’ busy day, or a health worker knew that their work reunites families or a janitor knew that his work helps put a man on the moon.