Want to Engage Employees? Connect Work to Happiness and Higher Purpose

Published on December 05, 2017

Jane Griffiths — Key Insights Driving the Future of Quality of Life for Corporate Employees

How can companies attract, keep and inspire the best employees? A sense of connection to the company’s purpose, good working conditions and authentic, caring leaders are the keys to engaging employees in today’s fast-changing world, said Jane Griffiths

When Griffiths started working for Johnson & Johnson 35 years ago, her main purpose was to clear her bank overdraft, but she came to be inspired by the company’s sense of purpose and mission. Today, as Global Head of Actelion, a Swiss biotech company recently acquired by J&J, she seeks to create the same kind of engagement among those she leads.

"My job is to have people understand the higher purpose in their business."

Treat Employees Well

A crucial step in improving engagement is to treat employees very well. J&J endeavors to improve quality of life both at the workplace and at home. “Work and life are inextricably linked,” she said. Measures include flexible working hours, employee development, inclusive policies, promotion of diversity, eight weeks of parental leave for both parents and much more.

Many companies treat their employees well, she said, but how can a company go further? Another important way to engage employees is to make them feel connected to the company’s purpose. In the case of a pharmaceutical company like J&J and a biotech firm like Actelion, the purpose is to improve well-being, fight diseases and alleviate suffering. Employees are engaged when they feel their everyday job fulfills this purpose and makes a difference in the world. “In our company, we manage to make the connection between what we do every day (…) and our central purpose,” she said. As a leader, she said, “my job is to create that connectivity and to have people understand the higher purpose in their business.”

We can bring authenticity and caring to our workforce, which is empowering and also engaging for the person that we work with.

Caring Leaders Make Work Enjoyable

Improving the quality of leadership is another key aspect in keeping workers engaged, she said. Leadership can make the work experience more enjoyable for employees. “We can bring authenticity and caring to our workforce, which is empowering and also engaging for the person that we work with,” she said.