Employees who can align their interests, values, and beliefs at work, are more likely to find purpose in their activities. Higher purpose and positive impact are more likely to be associated with higher overall well-being at work, higher employee engagement, motivation, and sense of fulfillment. As a consequence, leaders have the potential to positively impact their employees by connecting them to the larger vision of the organization and ensuring that employees are given the opportunity to participate in realizing this vision.
Employees are increasingly looking to organizational leaders, on how organizations will build back better-thinking beyond profitability and assessing how organizational activities can better align with people (employees, partners, and consumers), planetary health, and even prosperity within the communities where organizations function. It is imperative that leaders think about their organizational purpose and determine how well aligned this purpose is with the 5Ps of people, planet, partnership, profit, and prosperity.
People includes both consumers and employees. Profitability must be connected to designing products and services that holistically augment the quality of life for consumers. Prosperity means providing meaningful workplace experiences for employees, as they strive to innovate for consumers and engage their communities through corporate social responsibility. Profit and planet are also increasingly becoming linked to one another, as stakeholders evaluate organizations on the basis of their efforts to reduce their planetary footprint. In this respect, organizations will need to enable employees, consumers, suppliers, and their partners to drive sustainable innovation.
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) can provide a starting point for organizations assessing their larger purpose. Several organizations are striving to incorporate the SDGs along their value chains be it in terms of: leveraging technology to integrate and include isolated people and communities; working toward better access to healthcare; ensuring equitable access to educational opportunities; addressing inequities that may exist within their organizations; providing a living wage and ensuring transparency across their supply chains to tackle child labor and the exploitation of other human resources; collaborating with suppliers to enable ecosystem and natural resource preservation; and supporting responsible consumption and production. Organizations are realizing that it is possible through simple actions and due diligence to have a positive impact across multiple SDGs and prevent the negative impacts of past processes and policies.
Corporate social responsibility can further tap into the energy of employees, their values, and desire for purposeful work. What social responsibilities does an organization and leader have to its stakeholders and community? Through corporate social responsibility, the organization may find new business opportunities, but more importantly, will benefit from better engagement of its employees who share these organizational values. Donia and Sirsly (2016) suggests that when organizations pursue corporate social responsibility (CSR) related activities where the motives are transparent, the positive impact is not only felt by the target of CSR programs, but also on employees whose commitment to the organization, job satisfaction, and job performance also increase. Such activities permit employees to feel connected to a greater cause than daily activities and know that their organization is also interested in doing good. Employees want to create impact and participate in CSR related activities, particularly those that occur within surrounding communities which permit them to readily see the impact of their efforts.
While the definition of social responsibility may vary across organizations, the 5Ps model can provide a guiding framework for strategy and program development. Ultimately, organizations will be increasingly tasked with responsibility to a number of stakeholders beyond shareholders and the drive to be profitable, including: employees who will seek meaningful and dignified work; a planet that is demanding that organizations produce responsibly and within the boundaries of sound planetary health; suppliers and other stakeholders who share the desire to pursue transparent and sustainable innovation as well as enjoy safe, healthy and nurturing workplaces; consumers looking for products and services that genuinely and holistically improve the quality of their lives; and communities in need of financial, social, and environmental support. Leaders who proactively build their organizations on the basis of the 5Ps, will likely enjoy faster growth as they attract better employees, encourage thoughtful innovation, attract a more loyal consumer base, and develop a trusted brand.
In aligning your organization’s purpose with the 5Ps, reach out to employees to listen to their vision for your company and their expectations for you as a leader.
Your Task: As a leader, how can you enable your employees to find purpose and participate in the potential gains to be achieved across the 5Ps of people, planet, partnership, profit, and prosperity?
Donia, M.B.L. and Sirsly, C.A.T. Determinants and consequences of employee attributions of corporate social responsibility as substantive or symbolic, European Management Journal, 34 (3), 232-242.