As a startup, how you communicate your purpose will directly impact the type of talent you attract and retain. There are several moving parts to this process that must all work in tandem. Let's examine them closely and see how they all fit together.

Having a sense of purpose at work has been shown to influence a connection between employees and the company’s vision.

That connection is what ignites team engagement and becomes the foundation of a successful work environment. Most companies understand this concept, but they struggle to communicate it to leverage top talent.

The power of purpose

Cultivating a purpose-driven workforce doesn’t just benefit employees. It benefits your company as a whole.

From the employee perspective, having purpose in the workplace means spending their hours working on initiatives that are meaningful and matter to them. From the employer perspective, giving purpose means building individuals and teams that are engaged and who are performance-driven.

So how can your organisation stop talking the talk and start walking the walk?

Start by asking the right question

Most companies aren’t asking the right question. The question you should be asking isn’t “how can we give our employees purpose?”, but rather “how can we elevate the purpose of our organization so that we’re attracting and retaining the right employees?”.

You want employees to buy into the “why” of your company’s existence, beyond making a profit. That’s how you attract talent that’s looking for more than collecting a paycheck. The people you’re going to attract are looking for meaning and purpose. And not just in their personal lives, but in their professional lives too.

Does size matter?

When you’re a small company just starting out, the fear many founders have is that they won’t be able to attract the best talent because they can’t offer top market salaries, comprehensive benefit packages, or even a clear career path for that matter.

They realise that in order for their company to thrive, they need people that are smart, trustworthy, and driven. They question how they’ll manage to secure people with those characteristics if they can’t provide the right incentives.

What they don’t necessarily realise is that they can offer purpose and a chance of being part of something more. By creating an environment that is conducive to harnessing each team member’s sense of purpose, they are building a team that will grow through this shared vision. While the financial reward is always an important factor, it won’t be the single driving force.

What about in times of uncertainty?

Where it gets more complicated is when the company is still in its infancy and the vision hasn’t been fully articulated. It’s no secret that companies who are just starting out are going to face challenges. Eventually, some will be forced to pivot to accommodate for these changes.

When this happens, employees can often sense that something is off and may start to worry. This is where the company founders have to step in before things start to spiral too quickly. Communication is key! If your company ever finds itself in this situation, there are a few things that can be done to ensure that employees remain committed to the company mission:

  • Keep the lines of communication open at all times
  • Address any rumours head-on
  • Remind employees of how valuable they are
  • Don’t be afraid to speak to the future
  • Get the whole team involved in finding solutions

Great leaders don’t always have all the answers. But if they’re open and honest and take the time to keep their employees informed and involved, they will be rewarded with trust and loyalty in return.

Defining your company's purpose

No matter how big or small your company is, and no matter what stage it’s in, if you want to attract top talent you need to be able to clearly define why your company exists. If you can’t clearly articulate your rallying cry, then you’ll never be able to get the right buy-in from your employees and you’ll always struggle to achieve your vision.

To determine your purpose, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What change did you want to see that inspired you to want to start your business in the first place?
  • How can your company’s purpose motivate your team?
  • How can you communicate that purpose?

Start at the beginning

Asking yourself what change you wanted to see when you first started out answers why your business was born. If you can drill down on your answer, that is usually where you’ll find your core purpose.

For us at Humaans, we knew that we wanted to give small to medium businesses their time back. We realised that the HRIS solutions that currently existed weren’t intuitive, and as a result, made for poor user experience. We saw an opportunity to improve on what was already out there and provide more value. For us, that value came in the shape of giving companies time and energy back so that they could focus on the things that really mattered to them: their people and growing their businesses.

Translating that purpose to others

Based on a 37.5 hour work week, in a 48-week work year, it is estimated that the average person spends 1,800 hours per year working. That means that in a span of a 50-year career, one spends 90,000 hours of their life working. Those numbers are staggering. It’s no wonder people want to find meaning in their work.

It should come as no surprise that for many, making a difference can mean just as much as, or even more than, professional recognition.

If the people you hire have the same values you do, it won’t be hard to get them to buy into your vision. In fact, your team will be excited to work on projects they believe in and your company’s success will become their own personal success. The passion and enthusiasm shared by everyone on the team then becomes the foundation of the company culture.

Communicating your purpose

Having a purpose is all well and good, but it won’t be of much help if no one knows it exists. To avoid this, make your purpose a part of your brand. With time and exposure, people will start to associate who you are with what you do. Those who are drawn to your message will want to be a part of it in some way, whether that means as a customer or an employee.

At Humaans our purpose was never just to build a tool. The purpose has always been to help businesses grow and thrive. We just built the tool so we’d have a vehicle to help companies drive that change.


Humaans is a smart employee database created to simplify your people operations. Collect, store and leverage your people data to make your business better. Get started today – create an account in minutes.