Passion and purpose

Want to deepen the connection employees have to your company’s purpose? Here’s how Deloitte does it

How to embed purpose and passion into your day-to-day
Want to deepen the connection employees have to your company’s purpose? Here’s how Deloitte does it
Photo: Sergey Tinyakov (Shutterstock)
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A few years ago, I was listening to an executive at the peak of their career try to explain to me, in my capacity as their coach, as to why they were feeling less than engaged in their work. Although this was a new client, it wasn’t a new conversation. And, as with many of the others, it was a cry for a deeper connection and more clarity—an opportunity to reconnect with what their work really impacts.

I wonder what it would be like if we thought about your passion or purpose as a patchwork quilt,” I said. “One of many colors and textures, with multiple squares that can stand alone, but also form a collective story. Squares of purpose of varying sizes that can easily be swapped out when one no longer serves you or your work.”

Purpose is a fickle friend. It often evades us at the individual level. And it’s no easier to do at the company level.

During a recent episode of Reworking Work, Kwasi Mitchell, Deloitte’s chief purpose officer, underscored the critical role that stories of purpose and impact play in preserving the meaning behind our work. “We need to remind people why they continue to show up and why they chose us as the place to devote their precious time and energy,” he said.

Tying your own purpose to the company’s

While tools like CliftonStrengths have aided in cultivating self-awareness at Deloitte, Mitchell said the firm recognizes that purpose must flourish at the organizational level to truly drive impact.

A starting point for that is providing employees with a unifying focal point that resonates both systemically and individually. As an example, he said he and his chief of staff regularly channel their shared passion for education, workforce development, and the creation of sustainable career pathways. “We always re-center ourselves on that challenge: How many jobs do we create today? How many people do we offer opportunities to?” Mitchell said.

Weaving values into our purpose

Integrating values into the fabric of an organization is another essential element. Values serve as a tool for articulating what truly matters and how individuals within the system are expected to behave. Mitchell suggests a two-step process for making values explicit.

First, employees must be educated on the company’s values and continue to build awareness about them. Deloitte, for one, identified a gap in understanding, particularly among those who joined during the pandemic. To bridge the gap, leaders purposefully articulated their values more explicitly and demonstrated how they are lived out in practice.

Second, the organization had to equip employees with the tools and resources to embody their purpose and values in their daily work. They provided access to training and meaningful conversations to deepen the connection between work and values.

Centering individuals to create a sense of purpose

We often overlook the importance of centering individuals when envisioning the outcomes they should collectively strive for. Mitchell shared an example of a technologist working on an IT implementation for a Fortune 1000 bank. This person may struggle to articulate how their work contributes to society. But the work they do to ensure secure transactions enables, for instance, a mother to purchase the books her children need for school. “It’s our team’s focus to remind people of that and provide them with opportunities to engage in a way that aligns with their personal purposes,” Mitchell explained.

In the intricate interplay between personal and collective purpose lies the potential to unlock a profound sense of fulfillment and meaning in our work.