Sharlyn Lauby, the HR Bartender, recently posted a blog based on a conversation with Great Place to Work® CEO Michael Bush and Mars Drinks Global President Xavier Unkovic. The conversation centered on what Mars refers to as workplace vitality: the engagement of employees to sustain culture and achieve organizational goals.
Workplace vitality, Mars believes, happens at the intersection of well-being, collaboration, engagement, and productivity. It is the place where employees are truly at their best and the organizational culture is thriving.
In order to make change and move closer to the state of workplace vitality that Unkovic described, organizations need to establish cultural behaviors that create and sustain a supportive work environment. This is different from setting linear goals to achieve a vision. Linear goals do not motivate long-term behavior change or success, but immediate achievement. If I set a goal to run a half marathon and then stick to a training plan based on that goal, once the race is over, will I have become a runner, or will I have finished a half marathon? When work is focused on a singular goal, what is left to motivate the work when the goal is achieved? This is the challenging question leaders must answer in order to ensure successful cultural and behavioral change.
Using Purpose to Drive Culture
During the interview, Unkovic said something that caught my attention; something that I don't hear often from business leaders. He said, "We spend more time at work than we do at home or with our friends. Good or bad, that's life. And therefore, what better purpose do you have than to make life at work a better life?"
Organizations who have established strong culture and achieved workplace vitality are the ones who have a purpose beyond recognition or profit. They are ones like Mars Drinks, who see no greater purpose than serving their people. These organizations know that happy, motivated and nurtured people are more productive and innovative, contributing more and helping the organization win overall.
To create workplace vitality, organizations must be vigilant in responding to the demands of their industry, their work and their employees. Beyond the act of checking a goal off of the list, a purpose-driven state of being is what truly allows companies and individuals to thrive together in a great workplace. Achieving this purpose can be difficult, but for many organizations, the real challenge lies in defining it and using it authentically to sustain change at a deeper level than a goal orientation allows.
Being purpose-driven is what truly allows companies and people to thrive together in a great workplace.
The Significance of Why
There are many words we use when discussing drivers of organizational success. Mission, vision, values, goals, objectives...but "purpose" is different. Purpose focuses on the deep root of behavior, not how things are done, but why they are done. This important distinction is eloquently and convincingly described by Simon Sinek in his famous TEDTalk on what he calls the Golden Circle.
Sinek says that when leaders start with "why"—their purpose—they succeed at far better rates than leaders who start with what they are going to do, or even how they plan to do it. Inspired leaders and inspired organizations always begin with their purpose. Tweet: Inspired #leaders and inspired organizations always begin with their purpose.
When Unkovic said that creating a better workplace was not only a purpose, but a great purpose, I felt significantly more confident in and inspired by his concept of workplace vitality. When phrased as a purpose it was far more compelling. However, articulating and acting on purpose is not always easy. In our lives and in our organizations, we get stuck thinking that in order to make change, we have to set goals...to take linear steps toward our desired state.
While this may be true in part, all too often organizations and individuals focus too much on these specific steps and end up losing sight of their overarching purpose. Taking the time to step back and define your purpose, as a leader, and as an organization, will inform your culture in an authentic manner, helping you sustain true workplace vitality long after your objectives have been achieved.