While purpose in the workplace is imperative, leaders are potentially overlooking its significance to the overarching health of our civilization. My experience and research suggest purpose ought to be the objective, but it is the misalignment of the personal, role and organizational categories of purpose that ensure the journey toward purpose never begins.

Organizations of any sort that are replete with heavily bureaucratic processes and hierarchically driven management styles may continue to exist simply because it is easier. In fact, mantras such as: “But this is how we’ve always done it,” might be invoked as the de facto rationale.

Engaged team members fuel sustainable success in an organization. Purpose and culture are a bit like fraternal twins. If the concept of purpose is solid and balanced—if the organization also portrays an open and collaborative culture—stakeholders ought to see improved results. But there remain far too many employees devoid of purpose, stuck in an organization that is the very definition of disengagement.

Over the course of a ten-year period, involving the analysis of more than 111,000 surveys, Queen’s University unearthed several bottom line benefits to an engaged workforce, including:

  • 26 percent less turnover
  • 100 percent more unsolicited employment applications
  • 20 percent less absenteeism
  • 15 percent greater team member productivity
  • 30 percent greater customer satisfaction levels

When the culture and purpose of an organization is one in which the team member feels engaged and can exhibit their own sense of role-based purpose, it is possible for all intended stakeholders to benefit.

For The Purpose Effect to materialize the three categories of purpose—personal, organizational and role—must be defined, aligned, and enacted.

When this has been accomplished, a “sweet spot” will materialize for both individuals and the organization.

Each category that makes up The Purpose Effect is defined as follows:

Personal Purpose: What motivates someone in life; their why. An individual’s values, experience and beliefs inform personal decisions and actions.

Organizational Purpose: Why the organization exists. An organization’s principles, ethics and culture inform its ways of operating.

Role Purpose: Why a role exists in the organization. To achieve its goals and objectives, an organization establishes a variety of roles to support its mission.

A unique Venn diagram focusing on personal, organizational and role purpose outlines The Purpose Effect:


In 2010, Lindsay Hemric was appalled by the way in which many clothes manufacturers made their products. Sweatshops and environmentally unfriendly practices were the norm. Something had to be done.

Lindsay founded Teeki, an activewear firm that does the unthinkable. It takes recycled water bottles, invokes an eco-friendly process that harnesses the fibres from the bottles to then create clothing such as hot pants, tank tops and bell bottoms.


Teeki commits to a purposeful organizational DNA, serving all stakeholders, while Lindsay has evidently achieved both role and personal purpose. Indeed, as Teeki’s corporate ethos suggests, the company dances to a different beat, stretches with the yogi, runs to the highest peak, and swims where the ocean becomes one, in its pursuit of putting purpose on par with profit.

Purpose can come when you set out to deliver “more” as well. Another example to highlight regarding a firm putting a greater purpose on par with profit is Uncharted Play. Founded by Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman in 2011, Uncharted Play’s mission is to deliver motion-based, off-grid renewable energy (MORE) into “everything that moves.”

The company has designed both a soccer ball (called the Soccket) and a jump rope (called the Pulse) that produce energy after a few hours of use. Tellingly, the company believes that the concept of play can be used to prove that:Picture4

  • Doing good doesn’t need to be boring.
  • Anyone, anywhere can be a social inventor.
  • If people across the globe can connect and work together to address the issues facing humanity, the future is boundless.

Both Teeki and Uncharted Play (and its purpose-first founders) are committed to ensuring all stakeholders are being served, an example of The Purpose Effect in action.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Pontefract is the author of “The Purpose Effect: Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role and Your Organization” which can be ordered here. More information about Dan and his work can be found here.