Research show that most leaders are facing severe challenges onboarding the right competences to the company. Many experience a shortage in skilled talent, and in some business fields retention is also a challenge – and this will not be easier in the coming years. In fact, talent is one of the top four concerns for the world’s leaders according to World Economic Forum’s annual CEO Survey from 2017.

At the same time, we are facing “the new generations” – Generation Y and Z, if you like – who have no obligation to loyalty and who do not necessarily see a 50-hour working week as a virtue.

They typically have a different attachment to their workplace and to the labor market in general than previous generations have, and they have no urge to be employed in one particular place just because that is what you are supposed to. They are fine with an affiliated connection to the company. Flexibility and meaning are the key words as they are less likely to be in it for the money and definitely not in order to provide returns to the shareholders. They want to make a difference and work in a meaningful place.

Earlier this year, the Danish newspaper, Berlingske, published an article under the headline: ”Generation Z wants to change the world from their workplace”, describing the tendency that today meaningfulness is considered the primary motivation factor in a job. Anne-Mette Ravn, CEO at Hartmanns consultancy, says in the article: “For Generation Z, the primary parameter when choosing a future employer is that the company brings something meaningful to society. Or rather that the company’s “Why” has a greater purpose than just making profits.”

“…the company’s “Why” has a greater purpose than just making profits.”

In the latest issue of the Universum’s report, “Denmark’s Most Attractive Employers 2017”, the students have voted the feeling of actually being able to contribute something good to the world as being the second most important aspect when choosing an employer.

It is therefore essential that companies find their core purpose – their raison d’etre, so to say. And “Purpose” has actually been put on many business’ agenda lately. A few years back, not many talked about concepts like “Purpose” and a company’s “Why”. Now these concepts are widely used, and Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk about his topic is still one of the most viewed videos on the platform. In my opinion, it is equally important to make sure that your core story is alive in your organization. That it permeates the decisions that are made, the people that are employed, and those who already are with the company. This way, we not only secure a visible and active “Why”, but also a clear “How”. By using these two actively, you can secure both meaningfulness and differentiation at the same time.

Now some of you may think that “now we must come up with a story”, but when we talk about “Why”, it has nothing to do with inventing anything – it is about finding your core purpose. Often there was a clear purpose for the company’s existence at one point (other than making money), but as the company is growing, the “Why” must often step aside as the management is focusing on professionalizing the business. And it is here we meet the misunderstanding that your “Why” is a task for your marketing or your communications department. Defining your company’s core story is a job for the CEO, and it should be used as a tool when hiring and retaining staff as well as when making other crucial business decisions.

Defining your company’s core story is a job for the CEO, and it should be used as a tool when hiring and retaining staff as well as when making other crucial business decisions.

And in the pursue of talent, it really does matter that the company stands for something. In 2016, Coop was for the first time on the list of the most popular employers for business students. This happed after their CEO, Peter Høgsted, introduced his mission, “The Food Manifest”. I think there is an interesting link between the shift in strategy and the new positioning. Dear CEO, do you know what your purpose is? If not, you can start by asking your employees why they come to work every morning. Here you will most likely experience that you get many different answers, but also that there are many common denominators that can contribute to describing your “Why” and your common values.

Dear CEO, do you know what your purpose is?If not, you can start by asking your employees why they come to work every morning.

We believe that a company’s identity is the foundation for creating value and continuous growth for companies, organizations, and brands. The talent train is leaving the platform, so it is now that you can make a difference by finding the purpose of the business you are responsible for. And believe me, your purpose is not ROI, EBIT or Alpha.