Exploring the Purpose Gap between rhetoric and reality

James Edney

14 / 10 / 2022

Leaders and marketing teams can talk expansively about purpose, but research shows that this often doesn’t stack up with the day-to-day experience of employees, creating a purpose gap that needs to be closed.

For businesses aspiring to become purpose-driven, real change comes about through transformation, not just a memorable tagline. 

Purpose needs to be embedded throughout an organisation to make a difference.

What is the Purpose Gap?

This summer, research we commissioned with YouGov revealed a Purpose Gap between the purpose rhetoric of leaders and marketing teams and the purpose reality experienced by employees. 

We heard from 1,000 employees at large businesses and two headline stats stood out and really captured our attention:

70% of employees felt that purpose statements made by their company either conflicted or only partially aligned with their day-to-day experience. 

64% of employees felt that since setting out its purpose, their business had either not changed only a little or not at all.

What’s my Purpose Gap?

Clearly, for many businesses purpose isn’t showing up in the way they would want it to and the Purpose Gap varies across industries.

The following sectors have the biggest purpose gap, performing worse than the large business average on both the stats mentioned above:

– Transportation and distribution (83% and 65%)

– Finance and accounting (75% and 70%)

– Manufacturing (74% and 69%)

There is real appetite for purpose

Whilst there is a Purpose Gap, it is evident that employees want to see their employer do more to close it. This perhaps isn’t surprising knowing how important purpose is to people, for example, people who can live their purpose at work are 6 times more likely to want to stay at the company.

Our research found that almost half (48%) of people want to see more action on purpose from their employer.

This presents an exciting opportunity for businesses to tap into, because closing the Purpose Gap won’t only help business unlock the benefits that come from being more purpose-driven, but it will also meet the expectations of their employees for more action on purpose.

Get in touch if you would like to learn more about the Purpose Gap and how your industry compares.