Reshaping and redefining organisational culture with purpose at its heart

Zone’s Marketing Executive, Rianna Mitchell, shares insights from the CIPD Festival of Work 2022 on how organisations can embed purpose at the centre of their strategy, decision-making and culture.

Hosted at Olympia London, the CIPD Festival of Work was a conference and free exhibition for professionals, business leaders and organisations to discover the new world of work and gain advice on adapting to the modern workplace. It was an occasion to explore organisational challenges, such as employee experience (EX), plus insights into learning developments and skills from industry leaders.

Tony Osude, Commercial and Marketing Director at CIPD, chaired a discussion on reshaping and redefining organisational culture centred around purpose. He spoke with guest speakers Genevieve Edwards, CEO at Bowel Cancer UK, and Fiona Brunskill, Director of People and Culture at Transport for London (TFL), where they touched upon the impact of building trust, being inclusive, using innovation and the current climate on developing the right organisational purpose in hybrid and agile working environments.

The significance of prioritising purpose at work in the current climate

For employees, having purpose at work has always been the gateway to work-to-life enrichment — and now it’s more important than ever. “This generation is less driven by money but purpose,” states Edwards. As Covid rippled across the globe, it tested our humanity and values, seeing employees increasingly seek purpose at work as a way of fulfilment and keeping engaged.

Organisational leaders often prioritise the commercial value of purpose, but Edwards and Brunskill believe they need to balance their focus on creating purpose for employees’ lives while enabling them to connect with the company on a personal level, as it motivates and empowers them. When connecting personal beliefs, cultural perceptions, and aspirations to company goals and actions, employees tend to understand, care for, and believe in the organisation.

Brunskill told us that TFL shifted from behaviours to values. “Value-based organisations have a culture of shared cored values among all employees; they represent what is important to everyone and express the core ethics to which we stick to, no matter what,” she says. Supporting a community based on shared values fosters strong teamwork, employee satisfaction, a sense of belonging, and provides opportunities for employees to help steer the brand’s course.

According to Edwards, putting purpose at the heart of work culture to benefit the current climate does not need to interrupt the company’s mission or vision either. When talking about Bowel Cancer UK’s experience, Edwards says that their “mission and vision didn’t change, but strategy and structure needed to when Covid hit in order to deliver in the new world.” While these concepts work in correlation to establish movement and tangible results in line with company definition and goals, the purpose essentially describes the feeling that has been created once the organisation has reached the end of their roadmap to accomplishment. Incorporating a sense of purpose means that organisations can “balance the legs of the stool and increase [their] impact” — something that Edward’s company had achieved.

6 expert tips for placing purpose at the heart of work culture

As a purpose-driven culture informs employees decisions and influences their day-to-day behaviour, purpose should not need be treated as an appendage to the business, but rather a central part of an organisation’s business model and long-term strategy. Here are 6 expert tips for putting this into practice and reshaping company culture:

1. Edwards informed organisations that creating a work culture that employees can connect with emotionally involves building trust with their team through communication. Companies need to adopt a “if I know it, you’ll know it” stance, she says, as transparency fosters a healthier work culture and can make employees feel as if they are working for a company with higher ethical standards.

2. The CEO of Bowel Cancer UK believes organisations need to “keep [their] community and supporters at the heart of every decision,” when bringing purpose to the fore. Employees are more likely to feel valued, it enhances their trust for the company, and improves satisfaction with the organisation’s decision. Companies also have a greater chance at making better decisions and addressing issues when involving employees in decision-making.

3. Organisations should stay focused on the team’s wellbeing when redefining culture, especially as the pandemic took a significant toll. Edwards says it can:

· Increase reach and impact

· Motivate and engage the team

· Laser focus on the needs of the community

· Clear barriers, one by one

· Better able to harness the community

4. Edwards recommends organisations create a transformation and innovation fund to keep on top of culture. For Bowel Cancer UK, it helped remove barriers, test new ideas and find ways to move faster as an organisation.

5. Companies should not underestimate the power of bringing the team together. With the pandemic changing work culture and being a main driver for hybrid working, Edwards advises that organisational leaders should not place a limit on how often employees can come into workplace.

6. Bring together “vision, values and an underpinning plan,” encourages Brunskill, as it puts employees at the heart of company culture and connects them emotionally, which is crucial for building a sense of purpose. This can be achieved by doing three things:

a. Unify — Create cohesion, teamwork, and a close-knit community

b. Inspire — Stimulate from the basis of extraordinary human effort

c. Change — Providing a platform for change lays the groundwork for an organisation to evolve

When Osude asked the guest speakers to provide one key tip for developing cultural change in the workplace, Edwards replied “add a healthy dose of trust” while Brunskill suggested forming an “enjoyable workforce.”

At Zone, we strongly believe that purpose is the key to both customer and employee experience. To find out more about our approach to brand purpose strategy, visit: www.zonedigital.com/purpose

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