How can purpose attract and retain the workforce of the future?

Millennials are driving a huge shift in how companies engage and retain their staff. With 58% of millennials leaving their job within three years, companies must recognize what motivates their workforce


Vip Sandhir has made it his job to understand what makes millennials tick. He’s the CEO of HighGround, a Chicago-based software company that helps businesses increase employee performance and drive engagement.

He explains, “Generational change is one of the critical problems you see in the workplace today. Over 10,000 baby boomers retire every day, and 10,000 people turn 18 every day. There’s never been that seismic shift before. So companies are now dealing with contingent labor, they're dealing with remote labor, and they're dealing with the millennials and the different change they pose.  It's an incredibly difficult time today, more so than it has ever been.”

Purpose is key to employee engagement

To manage these changes successfully, companies must be willing to adopt new strategies and Vip is emphatic that defining and communicating a sense of purpose is key. He says, “Purpose has become one of the key attributes that a millennial will look for when they’re looking for a job. It's more important than ever that a company really focuses on what is their mission, their vision and their values.”

Valerie G Keller, executive director of global markets at EY agrees and says purpose is a critical component of employee engagement: “Those organizations that are able to harness purpose are the ones that are able to attract and retain talent. They’re the ones that can connect with customers in a completely different way, which is so important in the age of choice. And those organizations that are signing up to a bigger, higher purpose are able to have greater resiliency as well.”

EY alumna and HighGround CTO Anjoo-Rai-Marchant points out that if companies are able to keep their workforce engaged, it will inevitably lead to further growth: “Companies that have an engaged workforce see an increase in profitability, an increase in customer satisfaction and reduced employee turnover. All three impact the bottom line for an organization.”

A coach not a boss

Anjoo is calling for companies to be willing to completely change their approach to management, “We’re almost doing a 180 about-face of everything we’ve known so far about how to manage teams or employees in the workforce. Traditionally, it was a typical top-down type of management, almost like a parent-child relationship, and what we’re starting to see is much more peer-to-peer type interaction.”

She believes this is a significant shift and requires a different way of operating and managing employees. While millennials are driving this change, Anjoo points out that all generations are now looking for a more collaborative approach in the workplace and prefer a coach to a boss — someone who is there to mentor and encourage them.

As Valerie says, “Companies are looking to connect with their employees and their customers in new and different ways, and they need the ability to reinvent themselves to be relevant.” 

Factor in feedback

Another change defining the future workforce is the need for real-time feedback, transparency and clear goals. Employees today want to feel recognized and valued throughout the year, not just during their annual review. And they want to hear how their work is directly contributing to the success of an organization. Anjoo says, “They want to hear about their strengths, instead of having their weaknesses highlighted. I think what is going to continue as we look ahead is people are looking for meaning in their lives. It's not that people aren’t looking to work, they’re looking to have a sense of purpose.”

HighGround’s software reflects this shift through its “recognition platform” which enables employees and clients to provide direct feedback, giving managers a clear view of how everyone is performing within the organization.

Vip is excited about the future and creating a platform that puts the employee first. By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be comprised of millennials. By helping companies define their culture and purpose, HighGround’s technology creates a level of employee engagement that not only enables companies to attract and retain top talent, but also drive performance in today’s ever-challenging global marketplace.