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What’s your (corporate-purpose) sweet spot?

When companies find that sweet spot where the “we” overlaps with the “me,” they, their employees, and even society greatly benefit. But that’s happening only 44 percent of the time right now.

Employees say whether their company's purpose is activated and aligned with them personally; outcomes by quadrant (diagram)

When a company's purpose is aligned with its employees' purpose, good things happen.

Diagram summary

44% of respondents say their company's purpose is activated and aligned with them personally. In this "sweet spot" quadrant, respondents say:

  • The company's purpose is activated — e.g., purpose is aligned with strategy and business activities, and leaders' decisions are consistent with it.
  • The company's purpose is aligned with employees' sense of individual purpose — e.g., company's purpose matters to employees, who see how their work contributes to it and who feel accountable to act in line with it.

In the sweet spot quadrant, benefits include:

  • Employees are more loyal, engaged, and willing to advocate for their company.
  • Employees are more likely to say that their companies' purpose is having a positive impact on customers, employees, organization, and society.

Diagram data

Four quadrants of company purpose; outcomes by quadrant
Quadrant Activated Yes
Aligned Yes
(sweet spot)
Activated Yes
Aligned No
Activated No
Aligned Yes
Activated No
Aligned No
Respondents say The company's purpose is activated and aligned with them personally. The company's purpose is activated. However, the company's purpose is not aligned with employees' sense of individual purpose. The company's purpose is not activated. However, the company's purpose is aligned with employees' sense of individual purpose. Company's purpose is not activated and not aligned with them personally.
Distribution of respondents1 44% 12% 11% 32%
Employee's intent to stay 87% 58% 79% 41%
Engaged employees 77% 39% 55% 20%
Employees willing to advocate2 93% 76% 80% 45%
Positive impact on customers 96% 96% 92% 73%
Positive impact on employees 95% 79% 81% 47%
Positive impact on organization 95% 88% 78% 55%
Positive impact on society 91% 74% 78% 51%

Notes

1Figures may not sum to 100%, because of rounding.

2Measured as an employee's willingness to recommend the company to others.

Source: McKinsey Organizational Purpose Survey, October 2019 (n = 855 employees of US organizations with the identified purpose)

McKinsey & Company

To read the article, see “Purpose, not platitudes: A personal challenge for top executives,” December 3, 2020.