Executives and Employees Believe U.S. Businesses Are Falling Short on Delivering Positive and Meaningful Societal Impact
Deloitte survey finds link between clearly defined sense of purpose and strong financial performance
New York, May 16, 2013 – A new online survey released today by Deloitte finds that the majority of employees (68 percent) and executives (66 percent) believe that businesses are not doing enough to instill in their culture a sense of purpose aimed at making a positive impact on all stakeholders. The annual Deloitte Core Beliefs & Culture survey also found that organizations that focus beyond profits and create "a culture of purpose" are more likely to find long-term success. An overwhelming majority of respondents who said their company has a strong sense of purpose also said their company has a history of strong financial performance (91 percent).
Further, the survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive, identified many activities that contribute to creating this sense of purpose at work, including activities that make a positive impact on clients, employees, communities and society. When asked what types of efforts they considered helpful in achieving a sense of purpose, employees and executives both recognized many activities as strong factors, such as products and services that make a positive impact on clients, employee development and mentorship, and volunteerism.
"Organizations that have a culture of purpose focus on delivering meaningful impact for all their stakeholders – customers, employees and communities," said Punit Renjen, Deloitte LLP Chairman of the Board. "Many businesses have made great strides to strengthen their role as corporate citizens. However, our survey suggests that there is still so much more work to do, and that could have a positive long-term impact for companies that do so."
The survey results also shine an interesting light on the impact business can have on government and non-profits. Both employees (46 percent) and executives (60 percent) strongly agreed that government cannot reach its full potential without the help of the business community. Furthermore, employees (45 percent) and executives (54 percent) also agreed that non-profits cannot reach their full potential without the help of the business community.
Respondents who said their organization had a strong sense of purpose were not only more likely to say their company had performed well financially over the last year (90 percent) and historically (91 percent) but also to say their company had a distinct brand that stood out among competitors (91 percent), strong customer satisfaction (94 percent) and strong employee satisfaction (79 percent).
By comparison, of the respondents who said their organization did not have a strong purpose, far fewer said their company had performed well financially over the last year (65 percent) or historically (66 percent). They were also less likely to say their organization had a distinct brand that stood out among competitors (61 percent), had strong customer satisfaction (63 percent) and strong employee satisfaction (19 percent).
In addition, a large majority (85 percent) of executives were more likely to agree that their company's sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work there, compared with 61 percent of employees who agreed that a strong sense of purpose was one of the reasons they selected their employer.
"As leaders, we need to change the conversation – to focus more on the impact our organization creates rather than the profit we make," added Renjen. "Measurements such as revenue and profit fail to capture the full picture."
While the survey highlighted the importance of creating a culture of purpose, there were differences between executives and employees when evaluating their own company's sense of purpose. Executives were more likely to strongly agree that their company had a strong sense of purpose (64 percent) and they could easily explain it (64 percent). In contrast, far fewer employees strongly agreed that their company had a strong sense of purpose (52 percent) and they could easily explain it (41 percent).
Employees and executives also disagreed on how integrated purpose-building activities were in their own organizations. Both executives and employees ranked employee development programs among the top two when asked what efforts were helpful in building a purpose-driven culture. This finding suggests that making a positive impact on the lives of employees is a vital component of being a good corporate citizen. However, less than half of employees (48 percent) said offering employee development programs were completely or very integrated into their company's business strategy in comparison to over two-thirds of executives (70 percent).
Both employees and executives also ranked providing products that benefit society among the highest when asked what activities were most helpful in driving a sense of purpose. Yet, only 59 percent of employees said this was completely or very integrated into their company's business strategy in comparison to 73 percent of executives.
"Many companies are missing an opportunity to more comprehensively integrate purpose-building activities into their core business strategies and operations," said Renjen. "What companies do for clients, people, communities and society are all interconnected. A culture of purpose ensures that management and employees alike see each as a reason to go to work every day."
About the Core Beliefs & Culture Survey
The Deloitte Core Beliefs & Culture Survey is designed to explore the concept of workplace culture, as defined by a set of timeless core values and beliefs, as a business driver. This year's survey examines the connection between companies with a strong sense of purpose, and the impact this has on building and sustaining exceptional organizations. Punit Renjen, chairman of the board, Deloitte LLP, is the sponsor of this annual survey series.
This Core Beliefs & Culture Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Deloitte between March 11-19 and April 17-26, 2013 among 1,310 U.S. adults age 18+, who are employed full time in non-government, for-profit businesses with 100 employees or more. Of those professionals who qualified, 298 were classified as executives and 1,012 were classified as non-executives, based on job title and job role.
Click here to learn more about the "Core Beliefs & Culture" survey and view additional results.
As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.