Quell the Big Quit by Connecting to Purpose

Connecting to purpose can make all the difference in engagement and job satisfaction. To counteract the Great Resignation or the “Big Quit” plaguing the country, we must look closely at the way we do work. This includes how we help our team members connect to purpose.

Many of us who work in healthcare talk about the work as a calling. When I speak with nurses and other healthcare workers, I hear one thing a lot. They chose healthcare careers because they wanted to do work that makes a difference. They quickly become discouraged when they feel their executive leadership does not share that same sense of purpose.

The Senior Leadership Connection

Organizations whose leaders live the mission, vision, and values do much to foster this connection to purpose and engagement at all levels. One nurse leader recently told me, “I’m tired of putting on a brave face for my staff and telling them that our senior leaders hear them and feel their pain. The truth is that they don’t. I strive every day to foster a strong sense of purpose through one-to-one discussions. By helping them see the value of their work, I’m building engagement. And it’s raising the morale while feeding their sense of purpose.”

In a recent Fast Company article[1], author Marc Inzelstien cites a McKinsey survey: “Respondents who indicated they were “living their purpose” at work were much more likely than those not doing so to sustain or improve their levels of work effectiveness, and they had four times higher engagement and five times higher well-being. Yet only one-third of respondents believe their organizations strongly connect actions to purpose.”

How to Foster Connecting to Purpose

Help staff connect to purpose by:

  • Telling and showing your staff how their work benefits others (Patients, family members, and teammates)
  • Tying their everyday work to the organization’s mission, vision, and values

Here are a few conversation starters to help your staff connect to purpose:

  • At the end of the day, what gives you the greatest satisfaction?
  • What are some ways you made a difference today?
  • Tell me one thing that happened today that you feel good about.

In addition to fostering a strong connection to purpose, leaders must support employee wellbeing and see them as more than a body filling a shift. A study from Harvard Business Review[2] found that while 87% of companies surveyed agreed that it was very or extremely crucial that managers support employee wellbeing, only one quarter do much about it.  

We must remember that healthcare organizations are first and foremost places of human interactions, not just medical transactions. Creating supportive interactions and social connections among our team members will foster greater engagement.

Ensure managers are supporting employee wellbeing by giving them the training and resources to lead effectively. The next cohort of Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave begins March 24th and includes a module on fostering a connection to purpose.


[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/90708343/the-need-for-purposeful-leadership-amid-the-great-resignation

[2] https://hbr.org/2021/10/women-do-more-to-fight-burnout-and-its-burning-them-out

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