Purpose and Employee Engagement

What does it take to keep your employees engaged with your workplace? Does the answer come down to salary or wage? What about benefits? Or, do certain perks make the difference?

Does true engagement come down to something more elusive, like purpose?

Emotional drivers

To track engagement, many companies look at retention, a key metric in today’s hiring environment. However, when they do, companies will likely still land on things like salary, benefits, and perks when they try to figure out why employees stay—or leave.

Doing so might help you address operational concerns, but does it get to emotional drivers and unspoken elements that also play a role?  

  • Emotional connections between an employee and their workplace can help boost things like loyalty and engagement.
  • Such connections can also help convince an employee to look beyond salary, benefits, and perks, as they consider whether or not your place of business is the “right fit” for them.

But how do things like fit and purpose show up at your workplace? And what emotional drivers are in play when it comes to employee engagement?


In many ways, retention starts with hiring the best candidate. How can you evaluate if a job candidate is the best fit for your company? Read our report, “Matching Your Recruiting Efforts with the Candidate’s Experience,” and find tips to help match up your recruiting messages with your culture.

Read the Report


Connecting through purpose  

In the minds of many business leaders, workers must make connections between what they do, and the purpose behind their work. What’s more, purpose can mean different things.

  • For some employees, purpose means knowing that their work makes a positive impact in the world.
  • Other employees want to know that they play a role in the success of customers and clients.
  • And, for plenty of workers, purpose means being able to see their own big picture where career growth and development are concerned.

Your onboarding program can be crucial when it comes to planting the seeds of purpose, no matter how an employee defines it.

As a recent article in the Harvard Business Review points out, up to 20% of all staff turnover takes place in an employee’s first 45 days on the job.

  • That’s when employees are taking in tons of information, doing their best to navigate social structures, and looking for ways to contribute.
  • As they near two months on the job, they might feel stuck, confused, or like they’re in the wrong place.
  • Since they’re still new, it can be easier to walk away than it is to dig in and try to figure things out.
  • This is especially true if they’ve kept a couple of irons in other fires. If another opportunity comes along, or if they feel confident about getting hired elsewhere, it can be even easier to leave.

Here are three tips to help employees build connections, focus on fit, and find purpose at your workplace:

1. Go beyond systems and ask how people are doing.

In their first few months, employees are going to soak up lots of information about what it takes to function in their new roles. In the midst of learning systems and procedures, it’s easy to lose sight of purpose.

  • Check in and ask how things are going. Even if someone looks like they’re swimming along, they might be struggling.
  • If you can’t answer their questions right away, let them know that you’re going to look for resources, and/or will reach out to experienced team members to help. Be sure to follow up with employees when you do.

Showing up in this way can reinforce the bigger picture of what your company is all about.

2. Revisit skills and goals.

If you used a dedicated applicant tracking system during recruiting, then you probably gathered notes, work examples, and other information about your employee. You can return to this information to help build on conversations that might have started during their interview.

  • Did they express interest in something that is beyond their job title? As they get acquainted and comfortable, look for ways to return to these topics. See if they’re still interested.
  • Discuss ways that they can build their skills, and put themselves in a position to take on new responsibilities that might be beyond their current work scope. Perhaps you can point them toward events and trainings that dovetail with onboarding.

Revisiting ideas can be a strong reminder that your company is always listening and helping employees look ahead.

3. Answer “why?” even when employees don’t ask.

Plenty of employees love challenges that give them a chance to push themselves. However, when a challenge happens in a vacuum, or doesn’t point toward development, your organization might be missing an opportunity to create a more integrated work experience.

  • Is career mapping a part of your employee retention strategy? If so, it’s never too early to help employees start their career maps. Once they start their maps, it can be easier for them to see how certain projects inform their career growth.
  • At the same time, if employees recognize a gap between their career plan and the type of work they’re doing, they can bring this up with their managers and/or HR.

Working with them, you can help employees take on projects that align with their purpose, or build bridges that help them move in new directions.

When you encourage someone’s development through various stages of the employee experience, you’re reminding them that they’re in the right place. This type of foundational message might be one they come back to every time they consider whether or not your organization is the right fit for them.


Building a culture where employees bring their talents, and purpose to work every day starts with the way you recruit. As your dedicated applicant tracking system, myStaffingPro supports you from requisition through retention. Contact a representative today.

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