Give Them Purpose!

By Todd Dewett, Andersen Alumnus, author and speaker

Most employers give people jobs. That’s good, but they’re missing the point. To create all of the outcomes we dream of (strong productivity, morale, profits, etc.) you have to give them more. You must give them purpose.

Say it with me: purpose over paycheck! Sure, compensation really does matter, but it’s never the best motivator.

Sadly, most employees don’t experience much purpose. They do a task and receive their pay. Work is just a transaction. What a shame. When employees feel real purpose, you get more than just lower turnover and absenteeism. You get more than better productivity. You get more commitment, creativity, and resilience in the face of challenges. What’s that worth?

There are three ways you can help your employees experience more purpose.

First, draw attention at least monthly to the higher purpose they serve. Why is the group’s work so righteous? Because they help families find homes, they make cars people need to get to work, they maintain a fleet of trucks that deliver valuable products to help keep the economy moving, they keep the community clean, etc. Connect them to the work’s higher purpose.

Next, help them individually find fit. Fit refers to how well a person is matched to their role. Based on their interests, skills, and personality, how can the role shift, or how can you help them in the long-term find a professional home that really works for them? Higher fit always means a feeling of stronger purpose.

Finally, consciously cultivate and maintain great relationships. The key to long term success isn’t task competency. That’s required, but it’s the easy part. What moves them past mere competency towards embracing change and improvement is the quality of the relationships that surround them every day. When their immediate context is defined by helpfulness, kindness, and a sense of knowing that others have your back – that means you’re doing more than just completing tasks. You’re taking part in a real team. That’s purpose.

A funny thing happens when they feel more purpose: they stop obsessing quite as much on the paycheck!

Dr. Todd Dewett is one of

the world’s most watched leadership personalities: a thought leader, an authenticity expert, best-selling author, top global instructor at LinkedIn Learning,a TEDx speaker, and an Inc. Magazine Top 100 leadership speaker. He has been quoted in the New York Times, TIME, Businessweek, Forbes, and many other outlets. After beginning his career with Andersen Consulting and Ernst & Young he completed his PhD in Organizational Behavior at Texas A&M University and enjoyed a career as an award-winning professor. Todd has delivered over 1,000 speeches to audiences at Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Pepsi, Boeing, General Electric, IBM, Kraft Heinz, Caterpillar, and hundreds more. His educational library at LinkedIn Learning has been enjoyed by over 30,000,000 professionals in more than one hundred countries in eight languages.

Visit his home online at or connect with Todd on LinkedIn. He can be reached at