A new study, the 2015 Workforce Purpose Index, reveals that 28 percent of people are purpose-oriented, identifying them as "the most valuable and highest potential segment of the workforce, regardless of industry or role." We call this a Big Why: something that is bigger than making money, that you can never check off as complete.
The 28 percent who express this Big Why approach to life are motivated by two things:
1) Personal fulfillment
2) Serving others
In contrast, the other 72 percent are motivated by
Everybody Can Be Purpose Oriented
Some surprising things stand out in the study. The 28 percent don't make less money than the 72 percent that are money-motivated. They also come from across every industry, every imaginable job type, and every age demographic.
The research says, "By every measure, they have better outcomes than their peers." They:
- Are much more fulfilled at work
- Do better work and get higher evaluations
- Have much longer tenure in their companies
- Are bigger fans of the company
- Are much more likely to become leaders (and make more money)
The Joy Is in the Pursuit
People in the 72 percent can and do change, but that change usually comes quickly, not over time. A lot of people in midlife seem to wake up and decide they need a bigger reason to be alive than just making money or having a fancy title. The study points to a life principle that too few of us discover. In our business, we say it like this:
The joy is in the pursuit, not in the acquisition.
In grade school, I remember buying a tiny battery-operated beach radio. It was cool for about three months. Then I wanted a bigger one. Over 20 years, I bought a half dozen or more stereos, with increasingly more power, features, and quality. I continue to look at more expensive ones, but I have had a lot more fun pursuing the next one than acquiring it.
A Big Why gives you reasons to do things that you'll never be able to check off as complete-be a great mother, get involved in a nonprofit, help others get to where they need to be in life. A Big Why isn't necessarily a huge Why, like solving world hunger (although it can be). Instead it's a continuous Why-one that will get you out of bed when making money won't.
Workplace Engagement Is Unrelated
The study also clarified that purpose-orientation is much different than the too-often-used buzz phrase "workplace engagement." People with a Big Why don't need anyone to motivate them to be engaged. You really can't motivate them; all you can do to them is keep them from being engaged at work (they'll leave if the work environment stifles their purpose.)
Three Reasons to Be Purposeful
In my first book, Making Money Is Killing Your Business, I outlined why purpose-orientation works better than stuff orientation:
1) Making money is not an empowering vision. People who have a bigger reason to work than making money tend to make a lot more of it.
2) A goal realized is no longer motivating. The joy is in the pursuit, not in the acquisition.
3) We are made to be and to do something significant, our whole lives, not just the first two-thirds. There is something for everyone to chase that will get them out of bed every day, that is bigger than making money.
What Does This Mean for Business?
The study recommends that you create partnerships with people, not treat them like "resources." And employers should measure how work is helping their people in the areas of relationships, personal impact, and growth, not status, advancement, and income.
The bottom line: There is a new war brewing for a very different kind of talent-purpose-oriented people-and companies are scrambling to figure out how to develop hiring mechanisms to find these people.
You could be one of them. This year, intend to be purpose driven. Get a reason to go to work that is much bigger than making money, that is motivating both at work and at home, and that drives you to get out of bed during the tough times. You'll be more fulfilled, build better relationships, be more likely to advance, and still make as much or more money than someone chasing status, advancement, and income.
The joy is in the pursuit, not in the acquisition. Get your Big Why in 2016, something you can never check off as completed, and run with it.