Louisa Noble
Louisa Noble
Group Sustainability Director
Articles 5 min read
22 Mar 2022

Purpose-Driven Culture of Sustainability

Culture is evolving.

The COVID-19 pandemic and global disruptions have caused an upheaval. For most businesses, how we work and create impact has transformed since early 2020.

Despite this, prioritising employee engagement and wellbeing remains essential to success.

In his recent book, “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit” (3), London Business School finance professor, Mr Alex Edmans, demonstrates that wellbeing initiatives have a direct correlation to increasing profits. His research highlights that the “Best Companies to Work For” outperformed their contemporaries on shareholder returns by 2.3-3.8% per year.

However, wellbeing initiatives of the past are no longer adequate today. To stay abreast of evolving expectations, we need new levers to strengthen engagement and keep our people motivated.

Given the changing landscape, companies must be sensitive to more than individual needs. They must also pay equal attention to shared concerns that unite and advance us as a collective.

A 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report (4) on the “Belief-driven Employee” found that employees who left their jobs wanted shared value and a better lifestyle more than higher salaries. Based on a survey of 7000 employees across Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK and the US, the Report showed 7 in 10 employees expect opportunities for social impact when considering a job.

So how do we provide an environment that consistently nurtures the wider aspirations of today’s employees?

By building a culture of sustainability that offers an enhanced employer value proposition based on purpose.

A culture of sustainability is an environment that places importance on sustainable practices. It changes the way an entire organisation thinks, behaves, feels, decides, and acts.

A thriving culture of sustainability is designed to re-energise and reconnect teams to enhance business performance.

It fosters human potential and creativity, reimagining how we can enhance workplace culture to transcend the office.

It sustains the wellbeing of our colleagues while inspiring innovative belief systems and heightened shared value creation for “we”.

These are all essential qualities for organisational resilience.

This renewed take on workplace culture will bring driven and empowered employees. Resulting in increased productivity, higher retention, and lower absenteeism.

A recent survey by Gartner (1) showed that engagement increased from 40 to 60% when employers tackled current social concerns. Research by McKinsey (2) also found that “employees at purpose-driven companies are four times more engaged at work”.

There is no doubt that an emphasis on values and purpose is an important driver of employee engagement and wellbeing.

People want to have a positive impact on the world. Putting the focus on a sense of meaning boosts their motivation, creating a competitive advantage for their companies.

A culture of sustainability boosts engagement by demonstrating that employees are key stakeholders. This means involving them in identifying solutions and supporting them to create positive change to address wider societal and environmental challenges.

By giving special attention to individual needs and balancing profits with purpose, companies can create transformation at the individual, organisational, and societal levels for a shared sustainable future.


1. Kropp, Brian, 9 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2021 and Beyond, Harvard Business Review, January 14, 2021 (https://hbr.org/2021/01/9-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2021-and-beyond).

2. McKinsey Quarterly, More than a Mission Statement: How the 5Ps Embed Purpose to Deliver Value, November 5, 2020 (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/more-than-a-mission-statement-how-the-5ps-embed-purpose-to-deliver-value).

3. Edmans, A. Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit. London Business School. 2020.

4. Edelman, R. 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: The Belief-Driven Employee. Daniel J. Edelman Holdings, Inc. 2021.

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