Purpose Pays

Korn Ferry Survey Shows Executives See Direct Link Between Purpose-Driven Leadership and Long-Term Company Financial Results

-- Company Mission/Values Top Reason to Choose One Employer Over Another --

Editor’s Note: Survey Responses at End of News Release, Infographic Here

Los Angeles, Nov. 5, 2019 – Purpose doesn’t just add to an employee’s well-being, it adds to a company’s bottom line. That according to a new Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) survey of executives.

The vast majority of respondents (96 percent) agree that there is a long-term financial benefit to companies that make a strong commitment to purpose-driven leadership, with 77 percent agreeing “to a great extent.”

One of the reasons purpose-driven leadership may add to corporate financial gain, according to the survey, is the impact it has on employees. Eighty-nine percent of respondents believe understanding and embracing the mission/purpose of their organization increases employee productivity.

“Without embracing the purpose of an organization – the motivating force of why it is so important that we exist – employees will become disenchanted,” said Kevin Cashman, Korn Ferry global leader, CEO and Executive Development. “Many will leave, or worse yet, stay and not be engaged nor offer discretionary effort for their organization.”

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (59 percent) say their personal principal driver at work is the belief that their work has purpose and meaning. Only 11 percent say pay/financial rewards is their primary driver.

When asked about the main reason they would choose to work for one organization over another, the largest percentage (33 percent) note a company’s mission and values, followed by company culture (30 percent). Only 12 percent say the main reason they would choose one job over another is pay/benefits.

Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of respondents agree that people at their organization work primarily for reasons other than compensation.

“It’s important that day in and day out, organizational leaders live their purpose and mission. It must permeate all areas, from employee and customer interactions, to a go-to-market strategy and corporate social responsibility efforts,” said Cashman. “Being purpose-driven is not just a ‘feel good’ for companies – purpose motivates and elevates their competitive stance and financial performance.”

About the survey

There were 391 responses to the online executive survey, which took place in October 2019. Please note that due to rounding responses may not equal 100 percent.

Survey responses

Does understanding and embracing the mission/purpose of your organization increase employee productivity?

To a great extent 42 percent
To some extent 47 percent
To little extent 9 percent
There is no correlation 2 percent

Is there a long-term financial benefit to companies that make strong commitments to purpose-driven leadership?

To a great extent 77 percent
To some extent 19 percent
To little extent 0 percent
There is no correlation 4 percent

What is the main reason you would choose to work for one organization over another?

Company mission/values 33 percent
Company culture 30 percent
Career progression 14 percent
Benefits/pay package 12 percent
Company brand/reputation 5 percent
Flexible working 5 percent
Job stability 2 percent

What is your personal principal driver at work?

The belief that my work has purpose and meaning 59 percent
The ability to be a leader 25 percent
Pay/financial rewards 11 percent
Recognition/social status 5 percent

To what extent would you agree with the statement “People work at my company primarily for reasons other than pay”?

To a great extent 30 percent
To some extent 41 percent
Not at all 9 percent
To little extent 20 percent

Do your organization’s employees understand and embrace the mission/purpose of your organization?

To a great extent 37 percent
To some extent 37 percent
To little extent 19 percent
To no extent 7 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. And, we help professionals navigate and advance their careers.