I have always admired the rituals and connection that people in the United States military share. I had a unique experience as a child, because my father was in the military and my birthday is Veterans Day (and no, that wasn’t planned). That means most birthdays I spent at Veterans Day ceremonies and taking pictures with fighter jets and submarines. Despite those glitzy elements, hearing the Veterans’ stories was my favorite part. Every time I asked Veterans about their service, despite the hardships and sacrifices, their eyes often lit up. They would tell stories about their purpose, and their comrades, and their experiences. I’ve reflected a lot on that over the years – especially going into the human capital/people strategy field.
So I have to ask: How many of your employees’ eyes would light up talking about being on your team? Are your employees connected to the purpose? Are they emotionally moved by what you stand for? Do they feel connected with each other?
We all crave connection – whether we admit it or not. For many, we get this outside of the office. We ride Harleys, or religiously follow an NFL team, or compete in Ironman Triathlons. In all three of those outlets, I have seen full-grown men and women cry. Cried from disappointment, cried from joy, and were deeply moved by their chosen tribes. They talk about their purpose, and the group, and what they learn.
More than ever we want to feel moved in our workplace. This isn’t Kumbaya or spiritual circle kind of stuff. In fact, research shows that job seekers increasingly care about their connection to the purpose and impact of their organization. A 2015 Deloitte survey found that six in ten millennials shared that a “sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose their current employer.” Yes, in this current “war for talent”, it has everything to do with your bottom line.
This Veterans Day, I encourage you to better your team’s connection with its purpose. Here are three simple places to start: