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How can purpose position your business for success in 2018?

The start of a new year is an opportune time to take a step back and lay out what lies ahead for your business, employees and investors.

In 2018, your employees and customers will expect a continued focus on social innovation and social capitalism. One way companies are putting these into practice and differentiating themselves in the market is by engendering a sense of purpose. In today’s connected world of informed consumers, every business should know the reason for its existence beyond the product or service it provides.

This mindset reflects a growing desire by stakeholders at all levels in organizations to have a positive impact in the wider world. Today, 90% of executives recognize the importance of having “an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organization… and provides benefit to society,” according to an EY Beacon Institute/Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey.

While many companies understand this power of purpose, integrating it into their strategy and business operations can be a challenge. Here are some key considerations to help you on your purpose journey:

Articulate your reason for being

Clearly articulate and communicate to all levels in the organization why your business exists – what does it stand for and why should your people be motivated to work for you over your competitors? Highlight the natural link between purpose and what the company does commercially. This will help all business strategies align with and support the company’s purpose.

Empower employees

Building a purpose isn’t all about social responsibility. It also includes treating customers with respect and integrity.

Top-performing companies ensure their purpose is authentic and woven through the entire fabric of the organization. That’s how they’re able to actively engage their employees to believe in the purpose and live and act on it every day. Only once employees genuinely embrace the business’s purpose will customers feel the full effect of a purpose-led organization.

Organizations will find that effectively communicating their purpose will attract top talent who are motivated by the same values, which fosters a productive working environment.

Measure the impact of your purpose

Successful companies align purpose and performance metrics at an organization-wide level.

EY Beacon Institute’s research found that more than 90% of best-in-class purposeful companies regularly evaluate whether they’re making progress toward their purpose. Companies can choose to measure this in dollars or simply rely on employee feedback to determine whether they’re living their purpose.

Leading companies successfully drive their purpose into their organizations and recognize the importance of truly bringing their employees on board on the firm’s purpose journey. Our research shows that these companies are better at attracting talent, spurring innovation, navigating disruption and, yes, making a profit.

In an ever more competitive world, knowing your purpose is a business imperative. Companies that create a truly purposeful organization have a leg up in being innovative and sustainable for the long run.

Stephen McIntyre and Chris Jerome are EY Canada Partners, Private Client Services.

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