THURSDAY 12 MAR 2020 12:00 PM


Tying the employer brand to purpose can revitalise a workforce and connect the company to employees on an emotional level, says Andy Curlewis. Cielo is shortlisted at the Employer Brand Management Awards

As employers continue transforming and digitising, the future of work and artificial intelligence remain today’s favourite buzzwords. One of the more curious aspects of this is the paradox between the automation of our world and the rise of the appetite – and need – for purpose.

We’re living in a time of unprecedented change – the fourth industrial revolution. We know that now, more than ever, candidates are concerned about the future of work and question the impact it will have on them. Will I be replaced? Will my job exist in the future and in what form? Emerging generations want to know if what they’re studying now will remain relevant in the future.

Yuval Harari talks about the future of humans in his most recent work, '21 Lessons for the 21st century.' His thoughts on mind hacking and the impending 'useless class' are fascinating; he says, “Because technology is changing so fast, it's one of the first times in human history when we don’t know what jobs will look like in the coming three decades....So, the best bet is to focus on emotional intelligence and mental resilience.”

With this in mind, why is having a purpose and a progressive culture so important for organisations in 2020 to attract, retain and inspire the right talent?

In this digital age of superfast broadband and the internet of things, we’re connected 24/7. Our ability to create content is at an all-time high, whilst trust is at an all-time low. Although weirdly, Edelman’s '2019 Global Trust Barometer' shows that we trust our employers more than governments, business and traditional media.

Purpose has been part of our industry lingo for some time now. A cursory web search will see the likes of Forbes, Accenture, EY and Unilever monopolising organic search with their perspectives whilst CEOs have long talked about sustainable futures.

The reality is that the digital age is also one of transparency, scrutiny and fake news. Consumers and employees increasingly care about the intrinsic attributes of employers and companies behind the products and services we consume. We have greater choice in our products and jobs now and can see more about a company’s culture, purpose, corporate social responsibility or inclusion than ever before. For most, decision making is increasingly influenced by more qualitative attributes rather than traditional extrinsic drivers. Some examples include price for consumers or salary, status and job title for job seekers.

In the world of work, having an authentic purpose that acts as your north star ties your company and therefore your people to the 'why we do what we do.' It gives reason to why and how we can impact society, our customers our organisations and ourselves. We know we work better when we are all working towards a common goal. We know people want to work for a company that is actively doing good in the world.

Today, it’s easier than ever for employees to hop jobs, so an altruistic purpose must also be backed up by experience. A purpose backed by evidence of impact equals trust. Joining a company with a purpose beyond the here and now is not simply about an altruistic aversion to short-term profiteering. The greater the purpose, the stronger the future relevance and the more robust our sustainability.

Perhaps we’ll even be kinder to each other on the way there, too.

Andy Curlewis is the senior vice president – brand, digital & communications at Cielo

Book your places at the Employer Brand Management Awards here.