Help your employees find purpose through learning and development

July 2, 2021

Has Covid made you seek out more purpose in life? If it has, you’re not alone.

In a McKinsey survey of 1000+ US employees, 89% of respondents said they wanted more purpose in their lives. Reflection and introspection is to be expected after the upheaval of 2020 and 2021, but perhaps more surprising is the extent to which this reflection is impacting how we think about our work lives.

Purpose at work

70% of survey respondents said that their sense of purpose is defined by their work, so it follows that almost 50% said they were reconsidering the kind of work they do due to the pandemic. According to Deloitte, the percentage of those planning to leave their jobs is particularly high amongst millennials.

As we gradually recover from the pandemic, the expanding job market combined with the huge increase in remote working opportunities means that many experts are predicting voluntary turnover rates soaring over the coming year.

McKinsey sum up the situation succinctly and impactfully:

Employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives. Employers need to help meet this need, or be prepared to lose talent to companies that will.

So what does L&D have to do with whether employees have a sense of purpose?

It’s tempting to think of purpose as intangible and therefore impossible to affect. As if it’s something that you either magically have or are continually searching for. But really, a sense of purpose is knowing that your day to day tasks are in service of something bigger that you really care about. Leadership buy-in and a strong company vision are crucial, then purposeful workplace learning and development is perfectly placed to support that.

Purposeful L&D

What do we mean by purposeful L&D? Learning experiences that go beyond the ‘tick box’. Far beyond! Here are two examples to get you thinking.

Help learners achieve mastery

Individual tasks can feel purposeless. But tasks that you know are building your skills and helping you master your field can feel purposeful. Mastery is one of the three key pillars of intrinsic motivation according to Dan Pink's Drive and, helping learners progress towards it is an effective way of providing purpose at work.

Read more about mastery and why it’s intrinsically motivating here.

Top tips:

  • Don’t just focus on those employees that require development at the expense of those that want it. Your top performers may be the ones feeling a lack of purpose if they’re not being challenged and those are the people you’d sorely miss if they chose to move on.
  • Create learning pathways so your employees can see a journey to mastery laid out in front of them. A long term challenge that contains a mix of learning materials, can create a long term sense of purpose.

Empower employees to help each other develop

Employees that find purpose in positively impacting others are likely to jump at the opportunity to be a mentor for somebody else in their team and further afield. There’s a potential win-win here; your high performers feel purposeful through helping others, and those that need help benefit from your high performers’ expertise.

Top tips:

  • Invite your high performers to share their wisdom in your digital learning content. A quick video, voice note or quote from someone who’s been there and done that builds credibility and social proof with learners and allows your high performers to give back.
  • Facilitate mentor relationships both within and between teams. Remember that some people want to take sideways steps rather than moving ‘up’ through the ranks.

Creating purposeful digital learning

Creating purposeful digital learning is about putting yourself in employees’ shoes. What would give your marketing exec more purpose at work? Where might your assistant manager like to be in 5 years and how can you start facilitating that journey now? Who would feel a sense of purpose from helping train others?

At Lima Delta there’s nothing that makes us happier than creating digital learning with purpose. Reach out through our contact form to discuss your upcoming project in a free consultation session.

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