By Anna Częścik, Senior Associate, Poland, MSLGROUP. This article was first published in the People’s Insights magazine The Future of Employee (Re)Engagement, and is re-published below.
MSLGROUP’s PurPle approach, energizing People around a shared Purpose, can be a very important part of the employer branding strategy as well as an effective method for building employee engagement.
When considering the PurPle approach for employer branding strategy, we should start from a general idea of the corporate social responsibility and the importance of ethics and sustainability, and then proceed to shared value. In my view, a corporation should begin by fulfilling its basic duties.
Social responsibility starts at home
As far as corporate social responsibility (CSR) is concerned, employees are one of the key stakeholders and they need to feel that employers take care of them. Additional medical insurance, multisport cards, trainings or supporting work life balance are examples of CSR in practice. Such methods are commonly used by HR Departments but, very often, they are not perceived as an element of CSR. Communicating about such activities as a part of CSR is essential in building among employees the consciousness that their company is truly socially responsible – not only does it take care of external social programs but also its own employees.
Employees will be fully involved in the corporate social engagement programs only if they believe that their company treats them right.
Need for a shared purpose
The PurPle approach is very relevant today, considering the lack of trust and the growth of social demand towards corporations in solving social problems. What is more, the occurrence of the burnout and the search for meaning of life is getting more and more common among employees working in great multinational organizations. Making money is no longer enough for employees who can afford a comfortable life: they need to find a higher purpose for their life and feel the necessity to give back to society.
Volunteering programs are examples of employers’ activity designed to make it easier for employees to engage in social work. The problem is that some, most, corporations social engagement programs don’t have one common purpose nor do they really engage employees. For instance, it’s common for a corporate to support a sport… while it’s charity organization supports children in need… while it’s volunteering program encourages employees to plant trees. Of course all these practices are useful. But without one main shared purpose – which employees will believe in and really contribute to – such projects, will never be as effective as they could be.
Engage effectively. Co-create your core purpose.
PurPle is about true engagement based on the authentic necessity to change part of the world and make it a better place. Purpose is about the opportunity and the potential. People make it real with their passion and insights.
The purpose of the social engagement program must be collectively defined. It is essential to engage employees in the very beginning of creating the social engagement program – give them opportunity to choose what the purpose should be.
In order to create a well-designed program with one authentic purpose, which would engage employees, a company must rediscover its own social purpose.
Here are 3 steps to co-creating a shared purpose
- First, companies should consult their top management on where they find common purpose –both a business and a social one, and one in which area they would like the company to be involved in (for example support health/education/sport/etc).
- Second, management should start a conversation with employees to find out which purpose they would prefer to engage around. It is crucial that the purpose of the social engagement program is defined bottom-up. Social media and intranets are very useful tools to make such consultations.
- Third, after discovering the authentic purpose, which is shared between both the company and its employees, companies can begin to design real PurPle social engagement program and communicate about it.
The result of this approach – employees will become the best ambassadors of the program since it isn’t the company’s program exclusively, but also their own.