When I was young and looking for work, I was motivated by money -- I needed to pay the bills. But since I've grown up (and my business has matured), my priorities have changed. So have those of the working population.

Having a sense of purpose has replaced the dollar sign as the number one criteria for job satisfaction. In fact, half of millennials (who will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025) say they'd take a pay cut in order to find meaning at work.

Making sure your employees feel fulfilled isn't only good for them -- it's a direct benefit for your business. Employees who find purpose in their work are more motivated, engaged and productive. And companies with engaged staff outperform those without by over 200 percent.

It might sound a like a tall order, but a purpose-driven culture is easier to create than you'd think. Here are a few ways that have worked for us.

1. Define Your "Why"

Your raison d'être should guide everything your company does and it will draw like-minded people to the business. So shout your "why" from the mountain tops!

At O2E Brands, our purpose is in our name: to make the Ordinary business of home services Exceptional. We don't just haul junk or paint houses; we redefine industries and set a new standard for customer experience. We also provide a springboard for new entrepreneurs by launching careers through our franchising program.

Like Simon Sinek says: people buy why you do, not what you do. So make sure your purpose is something people can rally behind.

2. Take Work Out of the Equation

Good managers monitor their employees' performance. Great managers encourage their employees to reach their goals outside of the office, too.

With our 101 Life Goals program, we've created an interactive platform where everyone can share their ultimate bucket list. Our entire team can check in to learn about each other's passions and to help our peers achieve their goals. I recently learned that a new employee had a goal of riding the Rocky Mountaineer train through the Canadian Rockies. When I happened to win tickets for the trip at an event, I happily passed them her way. It was a simple way to show I care, build a connection with someone new, and help her realize a lifelong dream.

When support your employees' personal achievements, they're more likely to support what's important to the company. Yes, we have sales goals -- but sometimes you need to take work out of it and simply connect person-to-person.

3. Invest in People

Ticking off life goals is only one part of it, though. To truly find meaning in the workplace, people need to feel invested -- and they need you to invest in them, too. In fact, 76 percent of employees list learning and development opportunities as a top driver of engagement.

Investing in development is a powerful way to motivate your team. We've seen this with our Leadership Way program: a roster of homegrown development courses that encouraged everyone from call centre agents to managing directors to learn new skills to add to their arsenal.

But remember: not everyone aspires to climb the corporate ladder. (We have one amazing employee in particular who's been at our help desk for 11 years, loves what he does, and has no interest in the c-suite). So motivation and purpose can come in another form. With programs like revenue sharing, our culture of recognition ensures everyone is rewarded for their contributions.

4. Pay it Forward

Creating meaning in the workplace often starts with leading by example. What I mean is, giving back to the world as a company can inspire your employees to pay it forward as well. Salesforce has an awesome 1/1/1 model: one percent of profits, one percent of employee time, and one percent of product resources are donated to worthy causes each year.

We're currently piloting a program with Me to We to send team members to Africa to help build schools. In addition to supporting a community in need, the experience will also forge lasting bonds and leadership skills among the people involved. Our hope is then to inspire our team as a whole to give back in whatever way they can.


A sense of purpose truly comes from within, and you can't find meaning with a company that doesn't share your values. So one of the simplest ways to cultivate a meaningful workplace is to stack your team with people who share the passions of your company. When everyone is aligned as a part of a bigger movement -- that's when the true meaning behind your work (and your company) shines through.