Purpose Trumps Pay

Pay and employee engagement related but not synonymous

Echelon Purple’s research shows that employee engagement has a strong socio-economic component that reaches far beyond the pay cheque.

Although not directly linked to or caused by personal earnings, in principle, higher socio-economic status of staff corresponds with higher levels of engagement. This has far-reaching implications for organisations. Employees do not join organisations with a blank state of mind. They bring into the workspace their own day-to-day reality, fears, expectations and hopes. Their daily life experiences shape their initial state of mind and organisations have a responsibility to help shape this further. This often includes assisting staff to overcome their often defensive, protective and mostly reactive behaviours.

Employees from lower lower socio-economic groups usually occupy lower job grades, mostly because of their lack of education or other forms of qualification. Many of these individuals are focused on getting from one pay cheque to the next in order to survive. As a result, it is understandable that many of these individuals easily miss the bigger work picture of how their job fits into the overall organisational vision and what the real purpose is of what they do. This insulated view from the bottom of the job pyramid is also a limiting factor with respect to their personal growth and further career development.

The challenge therefore lies in the degree to which organisations are able to create a greater sense of purposeness and connectedness among employees of all profiles and grades. Those who succeed in the process should witness increased employee engagement and consequently improved organisational efficiency and better business results.

This finding serves both as a warning and an opportunity for many organisations. Complex upliftment of employees is a prerequisite for better return on investment. There is an onus on employers to share and communicate why a company or organisation is doing what they are doing, who the recipients of the outcome of their work are and how these customers, for a lack of a better word, are benefiting. Therefore organisations should help employees to connect the dots between what they do, why they are doing it and what the true purpose of their hard work is.


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