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  • Writer's pictureHeikki Leskinen

Bridging the Purpose Gap: Aligning Company Vision with Millennial and Gen Z Expectations

A graph visualizing the Purpose Gap, showing the disconnect between the expectations of millennial and Gen Z workers and the perceived reality in their workplaces.
The Purpose Gap

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, companies must adapt to shifting workforce dynamics. The millennial and Gen Z generations, who are now forming a significant part of the global workforce, bring new expectations to the workplace. Our Purpose Gap report done in collaboration with Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, shines a light on one key aspect - the importance of purpose in the workplace and the gap that exists between worker expectations and reality.

The Rise of Purpose in the Workplace

Ever since the first millennials stepped foot in their very first job, a new term has been hatched in the corporate world - the relationship between 'purpose' and 'work'. Today, it's become one of the key business themes of our age. But what does 'purpose' truly mean for these younger workers?

Millennial and Gen Z workers expect their employers to demonstrate a serious commitment to positively impacting not just shareholders but also employees, local communities, and the world at large. They seek a workplace that fuels their own personal sense of purpose and aligns with their values. This generation of workers wants to see their companies making real strides in areas such as environmental sustainability, ethical business practices, and social justice.

The Purpose Gap: Perception and Reality

Our research, conducted in September 2021, surveyed 499 millennial and Gen Z professionals, aged between 20 and 40, across diverse industries in five European regions.

The overarching narrative that surfaced from the data was the desire for meaningful work and an organizational purpose aligning with personal values. Interestingly, only 24% of respondents perceived their employer's position on the environment and climate change as genuinely committed, while 46% saw it as somewhat superficial. These figures provide a compelling insight into the unmet expectations of the younger workforce and an opportunity for organizations to strategically realign their purpose.

Bridging the Gap: Steps towards Solutions

So, how can companies close this Purpose Gap? Here are some steps businesses can consider:

1. Clear Communication: Companies need to clearly and authentically communicate their purpose, values, and commitments. This involves not only sharing successes but also being transparent about challenges and failures.

2. Align Actions with Words: It's not enough to just talk about purpose; companies need to walk the walk. This means integrating purpose into every aspect of the business, from strategy and decision-making to operations and performance metrics.

3. Engage and Involve Employees: Give employees opportunities to contribute to purposeful initiatives and to see the impact of their work. This could include volunteer programs, sustainability projects, or social impact initiatives.

4. Listen and Learn: Use surveys, focus groups, and other feedback mechanisms to understand what purpose means to your employees and how well they think the company is doing in living up to its purpose.

5. Leadership Role Modeling: Leaders play a crucial role in setting the tone for a purpose-driven culture. They need to exemplify the company's purpose and values in their actions and decisions.

In closing, the Purpose Gap report serves as a valuable reminder for businesses to take the expectations of millennial and Gen Z workers seriously. By understanding and acting on these insights, companies can not only close the Purpose Gap but also unlock greater engagement, loyalty, and productivity among their employees. After all, a purposeful company is a powerful company.

Closing this Purpose Gap is not a challenge to shy away from but an opportunity for positive transformation. Through The NextGen Project, we offer tailored strategies to align your actions with your millennial and Gen Z employees' expectations. Connect with us, and let's turn this gap into a bridge towards increased engagement, productivity, and a purpose-driven work culture.


The Purpose Gap report
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