Instilling a sense of purpose among employees


Let us move to the second initiative required to cultivate a sense of ownership among employees: instilling a sense of purpose and connecting it to their daily work.

Let us understand by this;

‘A traveler came upon three men working. He asked the first man what he was doing, and the man said he was laying bricks. He asked the second man the same question, and he said he was putting up a wall. When he got to the third man and asked him what he was doing, he said he was building a temple’.

Let us pause here and think for a while if all three men were engaged in the same job, but who do you think will do a better job?’

Without waiting, the answer is, ‘the third person, because he had discovered a purpose in his job, which will inspire him to do his job better.’

Let us come to employees. Many of them believe that they are merely doing a job to make a living. If we can link their job to a higher purpose, they can be inspired to produce better quality work.

Let us share an incident involving the U.S. President, John F. Kennedy. He bumped into a janitor who was mopping floors at NASA headquarters, long after the regular office time.

The President inquired why was he working so late?

‘Because I am not mopping the floors, I am putting a man on the moon.’ he replied.

Not just the janitor, but many employees across NASA started to believe that ‘putting a man on the moon’ was their job, regardless of what they were assigned to do.

Employees subscribing to this perspective would no longer see themselves doing a job but working for the larger purpose of ‘putting a man on the moon.’


You may say that NASA is a one-of-a-kind organization. Its mission was to put the man on the moon. Therefore, finding a purpose for its people may not be challenging. Can a sense be linked to an employee working in a company with more modest aspirations?

Let us bring Medtronic, the global leader in medical devices, into our discussion. It seeks to link its mission— contribute to human welfare by alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life—to its employees’ seemingly mundane jobs.

To build this linkage, Medtronic organizes an event called the Holiday Party. On this day, patients come to the company to share their stories about how Medtronic products transformed their lives. Employees from all over the world watch this event live or via video conference.

Bill George, ex-CEO of Medtronic, describes one such,

T.J. was the last patient to tell his story that day. Abandoning his wheelchair, he walked up the steps to the podium using just his arms’ braces. T.J. told of the sixteen surgeries he’d had, all-in-vain attempts to relieve the growing spasticity and rigidity of his cerebral palsy. At the age of sixteen, he had finally had enough and refused further surgery. His body became even stiffer as the disease progressed. It took him an hour to get out of the bed. Until the Medtronic drug pump transformed his life, T.J.’s simplest acts required Herculean efforts. Now he could get out of the bed relatively quickly, walk up to the stairs of his classrooms; even his hampered speech had improved markedly.


Hearing T.J.’s story filled Bill George’s eyes filled with tears, and it had a similar impact on the Medtronic employees in the room and around the world. This real story must have made its employees realize that they were not merely engaged in the mundane work of making devices but were alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending the life of people around the world.

Coming back: What is the purpose of your company? You have to introspect and discover it. And then share it with your employees and link it to their jobs. If you can successfully do this, your employees will come to work motivated and inspired by a purpose. The output they produce will be palpably superior.

Employees are empowered, engaged, and have discovered a sense of purpose in their job; they feel ownership towards the company. This will motivate them to work with unbounded energy to achieve, if not exceed, the company’s goals.

While we wait and watch the changes happening around us and hope that they will prove to be beneficial to small businesses in the long run, get the neglected parts of your business rolling. If you have specific requirements for a customized feature such as an internal social networking tool for your employees, connect with us for a free consultation on how it works and how you can benefit from it. We are always here to help and advise. We may not always share the same point of view with everyone, but we can always share values. Get in touch with HyperEffects to assist you with creating and maintaining a website. Also for any requirement-based features on your website, we are here to help and advise.

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