For senior living operators, the reason for being in business may seem pretty straightforward, but has your organization put that purpose in writing and shared it with employees?

PwC’s strategy consulting business, Strategy&, recently surveyed 540 people across various industries and found that at companies with clearly defined purposes — that were “clear on how they create value for customers” — twice as many workers felt passionate, motivated, satisfied and proud at work compared with companies without clearly defined purposes.

And surveyed employees considered purpose to be more than twice as important, on average, as “traditional motivators” such as pay and career advancement opportunities, according to the authors of a recent Harvard Business Review article about the survey.

A purpose statement must convey an organization’s unique value, and then the organization’s structure, systems and resourcing must enable workers to bring the statement to life, so to speak, they said. You can read that article to learn more about the survey and how PwC recommends coming up with a statement of purpose that inspires employees. Some senior living organizations already are doing work in this area.

When I read about the PwC survey, I was reminded of my recent interview with Pathway to Living’s new vice president of culture and brand loyalty, Mike Ulm.

Ulm helped Pathway develop what it calls an “internal brand promise” as a consultant before he joined the organization full-time.

“What you’re trying to capture in the essence of any organization with a brand promise is, what is the natural good that’s already there? What are the words that people use enthusiastically, naturally?” Ulm told me.

At Pathway, the promise is “Care to Know, and Make it Matter.” “It is how we go about business every day, focused on really caring to know the person who is our customer — not just residents but also each other — and then connecting the information we learn to our processes and solutions,” he said.

The brand promise was uncovered and implemented through a four-step process that took time, according to Ulm.

  1. Through focus groups, employees thought about stories and situations in which they felt the best about what they do. “What you get from those focus groups is a lot of words, and you begin to see patterns of intent, patterns of thought,” Ulm said.
  2. Employees define “what everyone feels is the essence of what we’re really trying to do.”
  3. The concept is integrated throughout the organization in several key areas.
  4. The brand promise is “activated.” “Because the original ideas for the brand promise come from a large group of people, it’s not a rollout,” Ulm said. “We’re not putting something out there that’s someone else’s idea. It truly was created internally by lots of people.” The activation, he said, is “a celebration of the stories, the concepts that already were alive. We just all brought it together.”

Have you defined your organization’s purpose or brand promise? Doing so, according to the HBR authors, will inspire employees and also help them help the organization meet desired goals.

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