How to Find Purpose At Work

Individual Purpose Is A Game-Changer

“Creating strong links to an individual purpose benefits individuals and companies alike,” according to McKinsey (August 2020), “and could be vital in managing the post-pandemic uncertainties that lie ahead.” Individual purpose, or meaningful action, is now seen as a gamechanger for those organizations who want employees to bring their passion and creativity to business opportunities. Yet research suggests most people when asked, cannot articulate what gives their work, or even their daily life, meaning. Additional research shows that igniting individual purpose is a human issue with significant business implications. This is because those who are aligned with their individual purpose, and especially during times of change and crisis, are happier, healthier, and contribute more to bottom-line results than those who are not purpose driven. The questions worthy of deeper consideration, are:

  1. What is individual purpose?
  2. Why is focusing on individual purpose so important?
  3. How do individuals and organizations connect to individual purpose?

What is Individual Purpose?
Individuals experience a sense of purpose when engaged in something that is deeply important to them, often influenced by one’s values. Core values also influence choices made in pursuit of fulfilling dreams, goals, and an ideal future. Knowing one’s core values, or the essence of what brings meaning and satisfaction to life, is a key element of finding passion and purpose at work.
Purpose is the intersection of passion and action. If Passion + Action = Purpose, then individuals who move into action from awareness have purposefulness within their reach. The implications of employees experiencing purposefulness and meaning in the workplace are significant, and progressive organizations are starting to take note.

Why focusing on individual purpose is important.
People who “live their purpose” at work are more resilient, tend to be healthier, mitigate stress better, are more productive, and outperform peers. From an organizational perspective, this translates into improved employee engagement, organizational commitment, and improved EBITDA margin (Dhingra, Emmett, Samo, Schaninger, 2020) or operational earnings.

Employees’ desire for congruence and alignment with personal values at work has been on the rise for years (HBR, 2021), and accelerated in 2020. The multi-faceted challenges of recent months is impacting the experience employees want to have at work and amplifies the desire for congruence and fulfillment. Some suspect, that as the crisis begins to recede, it could create dissonance for those who have yet to connect with what gives their life, and work, a sense of purpose and meaning.

How to connect with individual purpose
There are various approaches to connect, or reconnect, with work that brings psychological fulfillment. Progressive organizations are supporting managers and leaders to recognize and emphasize how to deepen awareness through transformational leadership + coaching strategies.

Below are tips to support connection with purpose through core values clarification and envisioning.

Begin by identifying core values.

⦁ What elements of daily life and work energize?
⦁ What characteristics do you admire in others and aspire to master?
⦁ What work tasks do you lose yourself in or what part of your role is deeply satisfying?

Example: One of my values is creative expression. There are many ways I access this value: writing, developing a solution, buying a gift, cooking, or arranging flowers.

Envision a desired future-state, or identify a goal worthy of pursuit, and take-action.

⦁ Identify a problem or opportunity and then imagine what you want it to be like.
⦁ Reflect on something you aspire to accomplish and pick one simple step in that direction.
⦁ Ask another to share an unrealized dream or goal. Support them in imagining the possibility and connecting the dream to the value it represents.

Example: One of my goals has been to get more movement. I imagined that in a perfect scenario, I would walk or hike outside four miles each day. An unintended consequence is that I have been listening to books on audible on some of those walks that are on my reading list for this year.

How can I find my sense of purpose at work?
Elevating the conversation with ourselves and others ensures that our actions are not dull or lackluster, but rather a manifestation of passion +action. People want to contribute to work that is meaningful, but it is easy to get lost in the daily grind. While everything will not bring joy and fulfillment, knowing what does is key to recharging when one feels empty and depleted. Bringing personal purpose to work is the gamechanger whose time has come.


Collamer, N. (February 15, 2019) Finding passion and purpose through work. Retrieved January 12, 2021, from

Dhingra, N., Emmett, J., Samo, A., Schaninger, B. (August 2020). Igniting individual purpose in times of crisis. McKinsey Quarterly.

Kaiser, S. (September 17, 2017). 3 unexpected ways to find your life purpose. Retrieved January 12, 202, from

Kropp, B. (January 14, 2021). The 9 trends that will shape work in 2021. Retrieved January 13, 2021, from

Connected Relationships

Finding meaning in one’s work has also been linked to connected relationships. Generally, people want to be a part of something bigger and a shared goal can satisfy that need. Check out our Partner Resource Tool and create more connected relationships at work

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