Back

Capital H blog

Are meaning & purpose missing for your workforce?

May 24, 2019

Organizations are increasingly offering lavish perks to attract and retain talent, and then tracking their success with annual engagement surveys. But what if they’re missing the point?

For better or worse, work holds such a dominant place in many people’s lives that when it fails to meet their innate need for meaning and purpose, their entire lives can become less satisfying and fulfilling.4 To address this issue and recognize that everyone who contributes to the organization—whether as a full-time employee, contractor, or gig worker—is an individual with intrinsic human needs, organizations need to pivot from thinking about an “employee experience” to thinking about a “human experience” for their workforce.

The newest article in our High-Impact Workforce Experience research, Five Top Findings for Elevating Workforce Experience, supports that most organizations are not yet meeting this need.5 When we asked our survey respondents whether they would recommend their organization’s workforce experience (WX) to others, their answers revealed a dramatic difference in Net Promoter Scores (NPS®)6 of high-performing and low-performing organizations. The NPS of WX is +42 in high-performing organizations, while the NPS is –39 in low-performing organizations—an exceptionally wide spread of 81 points.7

How can your organization beat the spread? The solution is a meaningful, healthy, and holistic workforce experience that reinforces the importance of individuals to the organization and moves forward with workers as partners in change.

To deliver on this ideal, your organization needs to fully subscribe to the belief that all paths to a better WX, and ultimately better business and workforce outcomes, start with workers themselves. In other words, a powerful workforce experience begins with a human focus.8

This means ensuring workers are connected to their work at a higher level than basic processes, that they understand the impact of their work on the organization and their teams. It also means providing a WX that includes all the connections and encounters individuals have with their colleagues, leaders, and employer—encompassing personal, physical, digital, and organizational elements.9

Of the five findings we reveal in our new article, this shift in mindset is the first and most telling of the challenges surrounding workforce experience today. High-performing organizations—those that have outstanding business and workforce outcomes—stand behind WX and are almost twice as likely as low-performing organizations to clearly define and connect workforce experience with their organizational programs.10

The high performers seek to ensure that every aspect of work is an inherently productive experience and link workers with a deeper sense of meaning on a day-to-day basis. They’ve shifted their focus away from narrow views like employee engagement or user experience and toward the broader and more holistic conception of workforce experience. They’re taking a dynamic approach to WX and creating a new contract with workers that treats workers as cocreators of WX—versus recipients of whatever experiences leaders deem appropriate. In fact, we found that 93 percent of high-performing organizations use a worker-centric approach in crafting workforce experience.11 Testing, iterating, and revising elements of work from the perspective of the people who actually do it not only helps to reduce the complexity of work, but also is a more effective means of identifying and eliminating barriers to productivity.

Everyone wants more meaningful, productive work. That’s why 84 percent of the executive respondents in Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends study said they need to rethink the workforce experience in their organizations. But only 9 percent of the respondents felt that their organizations were ready to do something about it.12 Is your organization among them?

We’re interested in hearing from organizations about how they’re working to reinvent their workforce experience. If you have a story to share about how you’re considering the human experience as you collaborate with employees to make work more productive and meaningful, please contact Christina Rasieleski (crasieleski@deloitte.com) or Matthew Deruntz (mderuntz@deloitte.com).

Matthew Deruntz is a senior research analyst at Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP focusing on examining the impact of employee experience and performance management on individuals and organizations.

Christina Rasieleskiis the lead advisor for employee experience with Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP focused on partnering with executives as they look to build irresistible employee experiences.


1 “Employee engagement” refers to an employee’s job satisfaction, loyalty and inclination to expend discretionary effort toward organizational goals. Companies typically measure engagement through an annual employee survey.
2Gallup, State of the global workplace, 2017.
3“From Employee Experience to Human Experience: Putting Meaning Back into Work,” from 2019 Global Human Capital Trends: Leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a Human Focus, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2019.
4 “Conceptualising Meaningful Work as a Fundamental Human Need,” Journal of Business Ethics / Ruth Yeoman, 2014, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-013-1894-9.
5 Five Top Findings for Elevating Workforce Experience, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Christina Rasieleski and Matthew Deruntz, 2019.
6 The “Net Promoter Score” (NPS®) is a simple survey sent to a customer at any point in the support process that asks the customer to rate the vendor on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of how well the customer would recommend the vendor to others. Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.
7 Workforce Experience Framework (Interactive Version), Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Christina Rasieleski and Matthew Deruntz, 2019.
8 “From Employee Experience to Human Experience: Putting Meaning Back into Work,” from 2019 Global Human Capital Trends: Leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a Human Focus, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2019.
9 Workforce Experience Framework (Interactive Version), Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Christina Rasieleski and Matthew Deruntz, 2019.
10 Five Top Findings for Elevating Workforce Experience, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Christina Rasieleski and Matthew Deruntz, 2019.
11 Five Top Findings for Elevating Workforce Experience, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Christina Rasieleski and Matthew Deruntz, 2019.
12 2019 Global Human Capital Trends: leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a human focus, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2019, https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/human-capital-trends/2019/leading-social-enterprise.html.

Originally published at Capital H blog