Headlines: December 6th, 2010

Organisations with a sense of shared purpose outperform those with no sense of shared purpose. This is the conclusion from a survey of more than 2000 employees commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Among public and third sector organisations, there is even an indication that the greater the sense of shared purpose, the greater the perception that service delivery is more timely. Over a third of public and third sector respondents with a whole sense of shared purpose said delivery of its services were timely and efficient compared to 11 percent of respondents whose organisations had no sense of shared purpose. And while over three quarters of employees agree that they know clearly what the core purpose of their organisation is, far fewer, 28 per cent, believe that the purpose is shared throughout the whole organisation.

The survey shows that alignment is the key issue. Alignment between an organisation’s purpose, its values and its goals is more important than the specific purpose of the organisation. Over 80 percent of respondents working within the voluntary sector were significantly more likely to have values and a whole sense of shared purpose compared to the private sector, 66 per cent, or the public sector, 78 per cent.

In addition to improving performance, the research indicates that having a sense of shared purpose also improves employee engagement and understanding of the organisation’s core purpose. Respondents working for organisations where a sense of shared purpose exists throughout seem far more likely to be engaged, 84 per cent, than those employees who work for an organisation without a sense of shared purpose, 32 per cent.

There were also indications that respondents who were satisfied with their job were far more likely to agree that they know clearly what the core purpose of their organisation is than those who were not +85 compared with +34. Lack of understanding around purpose can lead to de-motivation and detachment: a quarter of respondents stated not knowing clearly the core purpose of their organisation made them feel de-motivated, with one-fifth feeling as though they do not belong to the organisation.

Claire McCartney, resourcing and talent planning adviser, CIPD, said: “The research has established that the alignment of an organisation’s purpose, values and goals has clear benefits. In an uncertain economic climate this becomes even more important. As the public sector faces mounting pressures, those organisations that are able to align their purposes, values and goals for all employees will have a clear head start. ”