Does your company have a purpose beyond profit? How is a purpose-driven business defined? “A truly purpose-driven company must have purpose as its guidepost for decision-making—including the opportunities it decides to pursue and not pursue—to demonstrate commitment to responsible business leadership,” reports PwC. “What leaders should also know is that employees see purpose as a way to bring meaning to their work and understand the contributions they are making to the company, as well as society.” Pre-pandemic in 2016, PWC surveyed businesses and found that 79% of business leaders cited that a company’s purpose is essential to business success, yet 68% failed to use that purpose in their decision-making processes at their company.
Flash forward to 2020, as we all grabble with unprecedented circumstances with the pandemic inalterably morphing our business landscape, and the meaning of purpose-driven businesses takes on greater meaning, and is more important to the welfare of our workplace and our nation than ever before.
More and more companies that failed to use purpose-driving in their decision-making processes are seeing the light. Think of the restaurants reinventing business models that highlight unique and delicious ‘food kits’ easily made at home and home delivery services that even include custom cocktails. Consider Arby’s, best known for its delicious meat sandwiches. Now, in some markets, the chain restaurant has been selling its sliced meats in half-pound and pound packages so that customers are able to enjoy the hearty meats at home. Chipotle even added in digital kitchens to handle online orders for pick-up with orders increasing so fast and furious that the company hired 8,000 new employees to handle the online orders.
Companies that were already purpose-driven are pivoting and expanding to include new areas and specialties. In the security service sector, industry leaders like Allied Universal announced the hiring of 100,000 new employees in 2020 with the pandemic only increasing their demand. The company pivoted with distance screening technology so that their trained security personnel are able to reduce their client’s health risks at their facilities and help them to continue to move their businesses forward.
Our nation’s $100 billion fitness industry has shifted into a virtual world which rewards those companies that have been able to quickly adapt with updated fitness apps and virtual exercise classes. Brick-and-mortar gyms and studios that want to outlive the pandemic need to reach their customers at home delivering much needed exercise and relaxation classes.
Its important for company leaders to not confuse mission-driven with purpose-driven. While a company’s mission may be to sell Mexican food, for example, that company’s purpose may be to donate the food remaining at the end of the day to local shelters to help feed those in need. Apple’s mission has been to be a global leading computer company, but the company’s founder, Steve Jobs’ purpose was to create innovative tech products that were artfully designed.
The pandemic provides an opportunity for business leaders to evaluate their mission and analyze their purpose. Younger employees, in general, seek to work at company’s that are purpose-driven. Company leaders need to actively connect with their employees to hear their ideas and suggestions on how the company can reach its purpose-driven goals. Whether the dialogue is via email, online conferencing, or within the 6-ft. recommended physical distance, connection is crucial. Pivoting to a purpose-driven business can thrive in our post-pandemic economy.