The Power of Company Purpose

Mission statements and declarations of corporate values are great things. They look nice in an annual report or hanging on the break room wall. But, when a company purpose is committed, when it “walks the talk,” as we sometimes say, it can find power in those statements of purpose, too. Real, results-oriented power.

Here’s an example. At Insigniam, one of our clients is a large, regional healthcare provider with almost 9,000 employees. About a year and a half ago, the company hired us because its leaders had committed to a new company purpose, a lofty purpose at that. They wanted to transform healthcare by putting their people and their patients first. People and patients. Then profits. In that order.

This commitment got results. The sense of urgency was equally relevant; at the time of the announcement about the new purpose, employee engagement scores were very low — right in the middle on a scale of all healthcare providers. Just 18 months later, employee engagement scores were near the top ranks, jumping from the 51st percentile to the 87th.

Employee retention increased as well. The company was losing an astonishing half of its new workers every 12 months. Today they lose 20 percent.

Improved patient care

Patient surveys were also showing better results, and the number of patients who were being discharged without readmission — a key metric in the industry — had substantially improved.

That’s the power of company purpose, for sure. But here’s where commitment really matters. This year, the company had a big financial shortfall. It was millions of dollars off target. (Case Study: How a biopharmaceutical company earned $1 million per day and delivered a drug to the FDA 45 days faster.)

In the past, the response would have been simple, although not easy. Leadership would have announced layoffs. Instead, top leadership tasked managers from around the country to find a way to close the financial gap without firing anyone because, in the new purpose, people come first.

Saying that, though, writing it in the annual report and posting it on the break room wall, was one thing. Actually believing in it — even when times got tough — demonstrates that this company is truly committed to its new purpose. Will good results follow? We think they will. Indeed, we think they already have.

How does your company utilize its purpose? Does it “walk the talk?”

Did you know that uniting people and purpose could improve the success of a merger and  acquisition by a third? Find this article and more change management research by downloading the new Insigniam app.