Why Purpose, Mission and Values Alignment Matters Now

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By Nicki Gibbs

Healthcare organizations are facing significant economic, environmental, political and technological changes that are influencing how employees work and how patients choose providers and health plans. These changes aren’t slowing down, and they require businesses to evolve quickly and continually. Research firm Gartner recently found that seventy-three percent of organizations expect more change in the next few years. What’s next for your healthcare organization? 

It’s easy to get steered off track when facing significant change if your organization is not clear about where it’s going and why. Aligning to a clear mission or purpose helps healthcare leaders navigate these shifts by keeping them laser-focused on making decisions in support of the organization’s “why.” 

What’s driving the need?

Healthcare employee and patient expectations are rising. Organizations must exist for reasons beyond financial gain. Stakeholders demand better business practices and want organizations to be environmentally and socially responsible.

1. Rising healthcare employee expectations

In today’s modern workplace culture, healthcare workers expect more from their employers than ever before. In addition to looking for flexible work arrangements and professional growth opportunities, they want to find purpose and meaning in their work to deliver on why they chose this career path. Millennials, which are now the largest generation in the workforce, are driving this shift, but these higher expectations are becoming the status quo among all workers as social consciousness and stress in the workplace increases.

Healthcare workers also expect organizations to be environmentally responsible and implementing stronger diversity and inclusion programs. Organizations are taking note. Thirty-eight percent of executives see their organizations taking on more responsibility for societal issues as something that will impact the organization over the next couple of years. 

2. Rising patient expectations

Patients are also making healthcare decisions based on an organization’s purpose or mission. Accenture recently surveyed nearly 30,000 people and found that 63 percent “prefer to support companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs, and are ditching those that don’t.” 

It’s not enough for healthcare organizations to say they’re acting in line with a mission or purpose. They must also act accordingly. Transparency and trust have never been more critical. Seventy-four percent of consumers crave greater transparency from companies, yet, nationally, trust began to decline in 2017 at a steeper rate than ever before. If healthcare organizations say one thing yet act another way, trust will be damaged between themselves, their healthcare workers and their patients. For example, if a healthcare organization’s mission is based on putting patients first, it must also consider the impact on patients when faced with financial pressure to reduce front-line staff. 

Being mission- or purpose-driven is no longer a choice. Healthcare workers expect their work to contribute to an organization’s mission or purpose, and patients are keeping tabs on whether the organizations they choose are acting in the best interest of their stakeholders and the communities they impact.

How purpose, mission and values affect business metrics

Purpose and mission impact real business outcomes. Below are four additional ways being aligned to a clear purpose, mission and values impacts business in a positive, tangible way:

  1. Improved retention and recruitment. Healthcare workers want to work for organizations that remain steadfast in their commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of their patients and the communities in which they serve. 
  2. Thriving innovation and creativity. Having a clear purpose or mission helps organizations be more innovative, which is especially important in times of industry disruption.
  3. Increased loyalty and trust. It pays to build trust and loyalty with patients. Numerous studies show that organizations see success from loyalty.
  4. Healthier workplace culture. Organizations that clearly define, communicate and activate the value they deliver to the world or their stakeholders have employees who are significantly more motivated and passionate than employees at companies that don’t effectively communicate their purpose or mission.

Distraction, disengagement and inconsistency result when purpose, mission and values are out of sync. Healthcare organizations experience better retention, engagement, innovation and creativity when purpose, mission and values are clear. Employees work more effectively together toward a shared objective, and patients trust organizations that work toward delivering positive value to their stakeholders or a larger global community.

Nicki Gibbs leads strategy and services development at Beehive Strategic Communication, a purpose-driven strategic communication firm specializing in purpose, mission and values alignment and other services. She has more than twenty years of strategic communication experience and is Prosci Change Management certified. Nicki’s ability to imagine what’s possible creates contagious enthusiasm that moves businesses forward.

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