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The Sustainable Value of Purpose in the Workplace

How purpose and commitment can engender employee engagement


Some people deeply desire to be connected to something bigger than themselves. In the workplace, for example, this may describe those employees who are purpose-oriented in their approach to tasks. The firm Imperative, a company that studies how to empower individuals in the workplace, defines purpose-oriented employees as those who see work as being about personal fulfillment and helping other people, as opposed to those who see work as a source of income or status.


With such a high percentage of people saying that having fulfilling work matters, it’s important for companies to provide a work environment that engages this type of worker.


In a study conducted with LinkedIn users, Imperative found 40 percent of workers surveyed were purpose-oriented. Such workers were more likely to stay at a company for three or more years and were often more satisfied with their job.[1] With such a high percentage of people saying that having fulfilling work matters, it’s important for companies to provide a work environment that engages this type of worker.


According to research from the E.Y. Beacon Institute and Harvard Business School, leading with purpose also improves chances of being profitable. Over the past three years, 85 percent of purpose-led companies showed growth, and 58 percent of companies with a clearly articulated and understood purpose experienced growth of more than 10 percent.[2]


This is important in an age when, on average, about 30 percent of US workers have felt engaged at work according to Gallup’s tracking from the past 18 years. These are the workers who are enthusiastic and committed to their job. Even more concerning is that, on average, 17 percent of US workers have felt actively disengaged. In an office environment, these disengaged workers can have the ability to undermine the performance of others.[3]


In a separate Gallup study, business units within companies that scored in the top quartile for engagement had 41 percent lower absenteeism, 24-59 percent lower turnover, 17 percent higher productivity, as well as 70 percent fewer safety incidents (among other outcomes), when compared to business units in the lower quartile of engagement scores.[4]


Bringing Purpose to Life at GOJO

GOJO has a powerful purpose-driven mission of Saving Lives and Making Life Better Through Well-Being Solutions. From our founding on a safer way to clean working hands to our leading-edge approach to reducing the spread of disease-causing germs on hands and the surfaces they touch, our powerful purpose inspires our commitment to better solutions that improves lives.


This commitment is not fluff. At GOJO, we know that improved access to hand and surface hygiene solutions leads to better health outcomes. And there is science to back it up. GOJO has published research in scientific journals showing that effective hand and surface hygiene programs can reduce infection in acute health care facilities,[5] reduce absenteeism in elementary schools[6] and in military bases,[7] and can even reduce employer health care costs by reducing hygiene preventable healthcare claims.[8]


The social impact delivered by achieving the GOJO Purpose provides a strong, shared north star for our team members. It connects their work to positive contributions to the world. Our focus on sustainable value provides additional ways for our team members to connect with and deliver the GOJO Purpose to the world.


For the company, this concept of sustainable value is about creating social, environmental, and economic value for the enterprise and for stakeholders.


For the company, this concept of sustainable value is about creating social, environmental, and economic value for the enterprise and for stakeholders. It’s about making business decisions that are good for life and the ecosystem, while providing business value for GOJO and its stakeholders.


One of our four Sustainable Value Strategies is to Foster a Culture of Sustainable Value by infusing Sustainable Ways of Working℠ (SWOW℠) into our work processes and engaging our team members. Through SWOW, we consider the social, environmental, and economic impacts of our decisions and strive to make a difference through our daily work.


Our long-term goal is for all GOJO team members to have a well-developed understanding of how their contributions advance sustainable value. This understanding can help drive product and process innovation around sustainability, which can reduce our footprint and help make us more competitive. It can also make employees feel more engaged in the shared GOJO Purpose.


Another reason for our SWOW goals is that striving to be a sustainable company provides engagement in and of itself. A Hewitt Associates’ study shows that there is a high correlation between engaged employees and the belief that their company is socially and environmentally responsible. Perceptions of a company’s sustainability efforts appear as one of the top five threats to employee engagement more than a third of the time.[9]


Younger millennial job seekers also deliberately seek an employer whose sustainability values match their own.[10] A survey by IPSOS Mori showed that 47 percent of jobseekers are more likely to join or stay with a company that addresses social issues. Additionally, 75 percent would recommend their company if they feel it is environmentally responsible versus fewer than 50 percent if it is not.[11]


For GOJO, having a well-defined Purpose along with Sustainable Value Strategies and Goals give people a reason to be excited to come to work each and every day.


By Dylan Beach, Sustainability Manager, GOJO


[1] Purpose at Work, 2016 Global Report. LinkedIn and Imperative.

[2] Keller, V. The Business Case for Purpose. Harvard Business Review. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Publishing. 2015.

[3] Hartner, Jim. Employee Engagement on the Rise in the US Gallup. August 26, 2018.

[4] Gallup. State of the American Workplace report. 2017.

[5] Hilburn, Jessica et al. Use of alcohol hand sanitizer as an infection control strategy in an acute care facility. American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 31, Issue 2, 109 – 116. 2003.

[6] Hammond, Brian et al. Effect of hand sanitizer use on elementary school absenteeism. American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 28, Issue 5, 340 – 346. 2000.

[7] Peter J. Mott, et al. Alcohol-Based Instant Hand Sanitizer Use in Military Settings: A Prospective Cohort Study of Army Basic Trainees, Military Medicine, Volume 172, Issue 11. Pages 1170–1176. 2007.

[8] Arbogast, Jim et al. Impact of a Comprehensive Workplace Hand Hygiene Program on Employer Health Care Insurance Claims and Costs, Absenteeism, and Employee Perceptions and Practices. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Vol. 58 No. 6. P. 231-240. 2016. 

[9] Hewitt Associates. Best Employers in Canada Study. 2010.

[10] PWC. Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace. 2016.

[11] IPSOS Mori. Engaging Employees Through Corporate Responsibility. 2006.