As 2015 came to an end, The Atlantic published an article entitled, 2015: The Best Year in History for the Average Human Being. Indeed for many of us things are better than ever -- so good, in fact, that more and more of us have an opportunity to seek the highest levels of personal fulfillment -- even at work.
While things are looking better on average, plenty of people are still suffering. This has paved the way for a new economic model that combines purpose and profit. Take for example, TOMS shoes, which donates a second pair to someone in need, or modern non-profits like Kiva. These companies are driving our economy forward, because modern innovation is often fueled by a desire to improve the lives of those less fortunate.
Bringing Out The Best
15Five is driven by a mission to bring out the best in people at work. That applies to our own company as well as our customers who use our employee feedback software to check-in regularly and support their employees.
We have built a rare values-based culture and believe that companies can and should shed outdated management styles like micromanagement and Command & Control. Managers can see that they don't have to threaten or use outdated processes like stack-ranking and performance reviews held only once per year. In the new model, companies succeed by building genuine relationships with employees, granting them trust, mentoring and supporting them in their personal and professional goals, and allowing their greatest selves to flourish as a result.
What makes our team so incredibly creative is that they are driven by more than personal advancement. They are driven by genuine love for our customers and a desire to have every business experience camaraderie, trust, candid communication, financial success, and the fulfillment of their own company missions.
There are also small ways in which we help employees feel fulfilled. We give back annually via 1% for the Planet. Employees choose which charity resonates the most with their personal values. And because we give 1% of our revenue, this drives the team to improve our bottom line. Additionally, every employee receives an annual $500 birthday gift to invest in any form of personal growth and development they choose. This complements workshops 15Five provides internally on topics such as money management, personal integrity, and strengths based leadership.
Driven By Purpose
Supporting the personal growth of employees may seem like a fool's errand to some, especially company leaders who view their people as mere commodities or resources. They are reluctant to support employees in their personal endeavors. This makes sense from their point of view; that energy, focus, and creativity are finite. From their perspective, that employee could be using their precious resources at work instead of on a personal project.
We must change the frame to a more holistic understanding of human energy and effort. When employees perform tasks that are aligned with their personal values and strengths, those endeavors actually generate more energy and limitless creativity -- even at work.
I spoke about purpose at work at Success Summit 3.0 in 2014, where I told the story of our recently hired content manager who also desired to be an author. I have always supported that fully, without any reservations about diminished performance at work. When he spends 2--3 hours every night writing his novel, he is also honing the writing skills that improve his contributions to our blog. He is feeding his soul in a complementary way to the nourishment he receives by helping the team achieve company-wide goals.
I went on to explain the shift in management models from authority figure to mentor. As an example, I sent that employee an email with just one question; "How can 15Five be a support to make sure you get published this year?" His response was that being part of the team had provided more structure, clarity of purpose, and the tools to succeed. He was also in disbelief that I was so supportive -- disbelief that has translated over the years into high performance and loyalty.
This framework for managing teams and running a company is also congruent with what the marketplace wants. Millennial consumers, who are driving the economy, often make choices based on the Why of the company, rather than what they are selling. People of all ages want to follow something they truly believe in, and this includes the companies they work for and the products or services they patronize.
I don't have a staff of monks who are willing to eschew wealth and possessions. People still want to be financially secure and experience the triumph of more ownership at work. But a nice salary and a promotion are no longer enough. Employees and customers all want to be part of something greater than themselves. The companies that already recognize this are the ones that are succeeding today, but soon companies that do not evolve in this direction will start to fall behind.
Pathway To Purpose is a new blog series geared towards exploring why employees are putting a greater value on purpose in the workplace, and how employers are responding. How are you taking purpose to the next level in your workplace? Let us know at PurposePlusProfit@huffingtonpost.com or by tweeting with #PathwayToPurpose.