Employees who have purpose in their lives and careers are healthier and better workers than their peers who lack purpose, and their attitudes can improve a company’s bottom line.
Those are the findings shared Wednesday by Dr. Britt Andreatta, CEO of 7th Mind Company and author of a series of books on neuroscience in the workplace, in his Virtual HR technology Keynote “Wired to Become: The Neuroscience of Purpose”. The free online event runs until Friday. Register here.
Related: Britt Adreatta Explains Purpose as a Path to Innovation and Profitability
Purpose is an overall sense of what matters in a person’s life, according to Andreatta. “He’s driven by their core values and gives meaning to their lives and acts like a North Star,” Andreatta said. “It even helps us to know when we have strayed from the path and there is no longer any purpose in our lives and our work.”
Today’s push for careers with meaning is driven by millennials and Gen Z workers who are fast becoming the dominant workforce demographic.
According to the McKinsey & Co. podcast, the market research firm found that 70% of respondents said they define their purpose through their work, and millennials are likely to view their work as their life. Similarly, 71% of millennials rank finding meaningful work as one of the top three factors they consider in defining career success; 30% rank it as their #1 factor.
“Millennials have been driving this for a while, and they’ll make up 75% of the workforce by 2024. We’re almost there,” she said.
Millennials and their priorities cannot be ignored. Andreatta says these employees are the first generation to prioritize purpose over pay and to expect work cultures based on social purpose and a consistent application of values.
“They are obsessed with authenticity and will actively publicize ugly corporate cultures,” she said.
The benefits of a goal-oriented life
They might be onto something. According to various studies, people with a sense of purpose in their work life report several types of health benefits: a 50% reduced risk of dementia, a 72% reduced risk of stroke and a slower decline related to age. Having a goal also reduces depression in adults and teens, and addicts who enter rehab with a goal show a 50% increase in avoiding relapses.
These positive results assistance with health costs. People with a sense of purpose reduced hospital stays by 17%, lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 44%, lowered the risk of heart attack by 48% and lowered levels of inflammation.
“They are also more likely to take care of themselves and get regular screenings and exercise. Plus, they just live longer,” says Andreatta.
At the other end of the spectrum, a lack of purpose in life and work — especially as the global pandemic continues into its third year — has been found to fuel the Great Resignation, according to Andretta.
Nearly seven in 10 employees are reflecting on their purpose because of COVID-19 and its death toll. “Half of American employees are reconsidering the job they want to do,” she said.
Having a sense of purpose also allows people to thrive, not just survive, in difficult times. Employees who say they have meaning at work are:
- nearly seven times more likely to report higher resilience;
- four times more likely to report better health;
- six times more likely to want to stay in the business and one and a half times more likely to go beyond to ensure the success of their business.
Additionally, Google has seen 125% higher productivity among inspired employees and PwC has reported 400% higher performance in goal-oriented companies compared to their peers.
“We know that people with purpose have 50% greater leadership potential because they are ‘other-focused’, not self-focused. They will do a better job leading teams,” she said.
While CEOs and senior managers can make sense of purpose — young workers are known to research a company’s mission statement before heading to job interviews — bad managers can crush minds. and a worker’s sense of purpose. After all, they are the ones who create the employee experience.
“When it’s not good, managers do a lot of damage and that’s true in every industry,” Andreatta said. She added that 57% of workers say they quit their job because of a bad boss.
“Study after study proves that people leave a boss, not a company. If you’re seeing a lot of attrition right now, you have a managerial problem,” she warned.
Andreatta pointed to an investigation conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak; in it, one in four people said they dreaded going to work. “I feel like that number has increased during the pandemic,” she said. “It’s much higher now, that’s what’s driving the big quit.”