3 Lessons from the First Global Study on Purpose in the Workforce

September 13, 2016

3 Lessons from the First Global Study on Purpose in the Workforce

The business case for purpose has now been well established as driving business growth and effective talent strategies. Less has been known until recently about the most critical ingredient to purpose-­driven companies—purpose­-oriented employees.

In the first global study on purpose-­oriented employees, LinkedIn Talent Solutions and Imperative collaborated to gain insights from more than 25,000 LinkedIn members across 40 countries.

Here are the top three findings from the study:

1. Age, Not Generation Linked to Purpose
For the last decade, Millennials have been labeled as the purpose generation by the talent industry and media. While some of their stated preferences might back up this story, their psychological profile tells a different story.

In the global study, like in the American study conducted in 2015, an orientation to purpose at work appears to be much more closely linked to age differences than generational ones. We see a major jump in the prioritization of purpose once professionals age past 50 and much lower levels in professionals at the start of their careers.

Core Implication: A talent strategy focused on purpose will serve Millennials well, but will have even greater benefits for those with more work and life experience.


2. Purpose Is a Global Opportunity
Across the 40 countries studied, an orientation to purpose showed up across LinkedIn members and had consistent traits and benefits. There was significant variation by country (53 percent in Sweden to 23 percent in Saudi Arabia), but the concept held up across cultures.

Hiring and empowering purpose­-oriented employees will have the benefits of higher well being, performance, eNPS, and tenure in every country. It is not something that is only relevant in some markets and cultures.

Core Implication: A purpose­-driven talent strategy will be effective across a multinational organization.

3. Attracting Purpose-­Oriented Talent Requires Specific Approach
Purpose-­oriented candidates see work at its core as being about helping others and their own growth as people and professionals. In the study, purpose­-oriented people shared that in evaluating opportunities, the impact of the company and its products is paramount. They want to have a clear sense for how their work will create value and challenge them.
Purpose-­oriented candidates tend to be more loyal and positive about their current jobs. As a result, the study found that they are less likely to be recruited through passive recruiting. They need to be proactively contacted and sold on a job.

Core Implication: To attract purpose­-oriented talent, you need to proactively reach out to candidates and tell an authentic story about how your company is .

To read the full study, visit:

The Authors: 

Aaron Hurst is the CEO of Imperative, a technology platform that enables people to discover, connect, and act on what gives them purpose in their work, and the founder of and an active advisor to the Taproot Foundation, where he was the catalyst and lead architect of the $15 billion pro bono service market. . A globally recognized entrepreneur, Aaron is a close advisor to many global brands and frequent speaker and writer on the development of the Purpose Economy. He has written for or been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Bloomberg TV.