What Does Purpose Mean in a Post-Pandemic World?

12 May 2021

This time 12 months ago the developed world was plunged into isolation. Lockdown restrictions, furlough schemes, redundancies, not to mention the daily news reporting increasing deaths from COVID-19, left many of us pondering what our purpose is in this crazy world.

We know life-changing events will alter our perception of what is truly important. But the pandemic was the first time this happened on such a wide scale across our society.

The impact won’t be fully understood for years to come, but when employees are starting to deeply think about their purpose in a post-pandemic world, just as lockdowns seem to be easing, this causes a major challenge for employers and brands alike.

The Pandemic's Impact

21st June 2021 is a date we hope will live in our memory for all the right reasons, as it will be the first day of a post-pandemic world without lockdown or social distancing restrictions. But the world has changed. Businesses have come and gone, some have thrived, others have barely clung on.

It is no surprise consumers want brands to focus on local communities now they have spent a year at home. Without supporting local businesses, the economy will take longer to recover. Environmental impact, equality and inclusion, flexible working and mental health are all key issues that will continue to dominate the media agenda. Consumers and employees will be looking to their senior leadership teams to implement policies which build back better.

Business leaders now acknowledge that remote working and flexible hours increase productivity and morale. The office culture, which for so long as helped (and hindered) the sense of purpose an employee feels towards their role, has been completely changed. And that’s without considering the need to re-integrate furloughed staff back into a business where their colleagues have been working flat out to keep the business afloat.

The challenge for senior leadership is to balance these external factors while remaining true to their core brand and company culture.

We asked Tim Dorsett , Internal Communications Manager at innocent Drinks, about the challenges they have faced since the pandemic.

"Our Purpose at innocent is visible on a daily basis. It underpins everything the company does and the decisions we make on an individual basis and group wide. In fact, for the first time in 21 years, we changed our Purpose at the very end of 2020.

1999 - 2020 = to make delicious natural food and drink that helps people live well and die old

2021 and beyond =  to make delicious natural food and drink that helps people and the planet live well and die old.

Whoever you are and whatever part of the business you work in, however disconnected we feel at the moment during this pandemic, everyone at innocent is here to do the same thing, for the same purpose. So the first time a new starter will meet our CEO, is in our company induction, which discusses our Purpose, Vision and Values."

Purpose in a Post-Pandemic World

How we shop, interact and work have fundamentally changed forever. The pandemic has forced businesses to change at lightening speed. There is a risk that business leaders will lose faith in their ability to compete with larger organisations or those that have simply outperformed their own during the past 12-months.

However, this is an opportunity for business leaders to place purpose at the heart of their business. They can tap into the talent and the need for meaningful purpose by including their employees within the future planning process.

Even if a business has been successful, there are still ethical challenges to solve. Supply chains, packaging, and recycling will all come under closer scrutiny as consumer spend increases while demanding brands reduce their carbon footprint.

Purpose in this post-pandemic world could take a substance over style approach. While social media teams love to use images of their colleagues volunteering to populate their Instagram feed, is that really delivering the right level of impact employees and customers expect to see? We could be entering an era where silent actions speak louder than words.

We asked Belinda Parmar , CEO of the Empathy Business, what were the challenges leadership teams face in this post-pandemic world.

"In 2020 we have seen a global pandemic, sweeping civil rights protests and a radical change in how and why people work. As society isolated us at home, our jobs and the need for a purpose has become more important than ever. A recent survey found that 63% of millennials said that the primary purpose of businesses should be “improving society” instead of “generating profit”. A new era of socially conscious consumers and workers are demanding a new type of company that provides us with a sense of purpose and belonging. The businesses that thrive are those who can respond to a world that took away our stability and created a deeper purpose at work."

Booking a Keynote Speaker

Leadership teams are faced with an extraordinary challenge, but we should remember every business is unique. The USPs and values which drive the business, whether they are new or old, can drive the purpose employees are seeking in this post-pandemic world.

A true purpose endures over time, embodying core values and truths about who the business is and what it represents. How these qualities manifest themselves to the market, customers, employees, and stakeholders will change as we come through the business recovery.

Booking a keynote speaker to begin the conversation and unite employees behind a common purpose is one way to bring teams on this new journey. Breakout rooms and informal meetings after the speaker has finished their speech can build on the thoughts created during the session.

Creating purpose in a post-pandemic world won’t be a one size fits all approach, but having a clear, strong, true brand purpose will give employees a reason to believe their meaning will be found in the great work they do for your business.

For further information regarding or to book a speaker, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070  or email  info@speakerscorner.co.uk .

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