It’s challenging for employees to effectively work together toward a shared objective and for customers to trust businesses when a company’s purpose, mission and values are out of sync. Purpose and mission define why an organization exists, and values articulate how an organization will get to where it wants to go. Together, these strategic business elements help organizations stay on track toward achieving their goals.
Learn more about purpose, mission and values as strategic business elements. Download the guide.
Organizations likely need a purpose, mission and values alignment check when employees are distracted and uninspired, and when work quality and customer experience are inconsistent or poor. Conversely, organizations that effectively align employee behavior and corporate decision-making to their purpose, mission and values can successfully drive positive impact and better business results. These organizations are more equipped to navigate disruption in a rapidly changing business environment, using their purpose, mission and values as a guiding framework.
Below are four signs that an organization’s purpose, mission and values need an alignment check:
1. Employee engagement is down
Low employee engagement suggests employees aren’t feeling motivated, passionate or committed to their work. Distracted, disengaged and inconsistent employee behavior and performance could be a sign that the organization’s purpose or mission and supporting values aren’t in alignment or communicated clearly.
Employees are more likely to understand the positive impact an organization has on its stakeholders — and the role they play in delivering that impact — when the organization clearly defines its purpose or mission and pairs it with values that guide employee actions, attitudes and behaviors.
Organizations that effectively communicate their value have employees who are significantly more motivated and passionate than employees at companies that don’t. Gallup found that employees are three-and-a-half times more likely to be engaged when employees can see how their work affects the organization’s goals. Employee engagement matters because it affects critical organizational metrics. Gallup also found organizations that score in the top quartile of employee engagement experience better customer engagement, productivity, retention and profitability.
2. Recruitment and retention efforts are suffering
Organizations struggle to recruit and retain employees when they don’t know what they stand for, often hiring and retaining employees who are unable to meet business goals. It’s a sign that an organization needs a purpose, mission and values alignment check if it takes a long time to fill open roles and if the employee turnover rate is above average or increasing.
Employees want to work for companies that have a purpose or mission and values that align with their own. Company purpose is more important to employees than traditional motivators like compensation and career advancement, and it’s the strongest retention driver for millennial employees. Organizations that are struggling to recruit or retain talent should revisit and potentially revamp their purpose, mission and values.
Organizations can weave their purpose, mission and values into interview questions with prospective candidates and as evaluation criteria during employee reviews. Using values to guide communication and evaluate potential and current employees increases the likelihood of attracting and keeping the right employees. Learn more here.
3. Customers are unhappy
It’s often a sign that the organization’s purpose, mission and values need an alignment check when customers are unhappy. An increase in customer support complaints, negative chatter on social media or a declining Net Promoter Score (NPS) can signal to leadership that it’s time to evaluate whether employee behavior, workplace culture and the customer experience align with the purpose, mission and values.
Organizations that align with these strategic business elements are better positioned to deliver a positive customer experience because employees are engaged, making decisions that align to the values and providing a consistent, high-quality customer experience. Keeping a pulse on these and other customer signals can help an organization ensure that its purpose, mission and values are translating to how employees engage with customers.
4. Partners, suppliers and vendors don’t align
Suppliers, vendors and business partners that misalign with company values are an important but sometimes subtle sign that an organization needs a purpose, mission and values alignment check.
Organizations aligned to their purpose, mission and values reflect it through the suppliers, vendors and business partners they choose to work with. A company with a value of sustainability should work with partners that align with these values. For example, companies can put this value to action by choosing to work with small local businesses, showing preference to suppliers that offer recycled or compostable products, or buying from partners who measure and commit to improving their own carbon footprints.
Consumers are also becoming increasingly mindful of whether the companies they buy from are living up to the values they promote. Not only does working with misaligned vendors make it more challenging for an organization to work toward its purpose or mission, but consumers are quick to publicly call out the companies they believe are operating in opposition to who they say they are. The repercussions of losing consumer trust are far-reaching and lasting.
Organizations are well equipped to motivate employees, deliver a superior customer experience and choose high-quality vendors when they align employee behavior and corporate decision-making to a purpose or mission and supporting values. Doing so helps companies achieve quicker results in pursuit of their ultimate goals. Organizations hoping to make strides toward their objectives should be aware of signs they need a purpose, mission and values alignment check.
About Nicki Gibbs, EVP, Strategy
Nicki is a positively brilliant strategist with a knack for inspiring clients and teams to think and act in powerful ways. Her favorite question is “What if?” Her ability to imagine what’s possible creates contagious enthusiasm that moves businesses forward. Nicki also is a ProSci-certified change management leader with deep experience applying research-based methods to drive measurable business results.