The power of purpose in council operations

In today’s dynamic work environment, understanding and communicating your council's purpose is more crucial than ever. KPMG’s research underlines the significance of purpose in crafting an exceptional employee experience, forging strong connections between individuals, their roles, and the broader organisation. But how well is this purpose communicated and understood within your council?


Understanding organisational purpose

Are you clear on your council’s purpose? And can you articulate it?

Research by KPMG showed that purpose is fundamental to a great employee experience, and builds the crucial connections between people, their work, and the organisation.

Yet many leaders don’t take the opportunity to regularly reinforce organisational purpose with their team members, either collectively or individually. Understanding what the organisation is trying to achieve and being clear about how an individual’s role contributes to that purpose should be a top and ongoing priority for every leader.


The disconnect - from recruitment to retention

Our insights paper, 'Revolving Doors', explores employees' expectations from the start to the end of their journey with the organisation. Initially, employees are enthusiastic, believing strongly that the organisation's vision and values mirror their personal goals. However, a worrying 15% decline in this belief is noted by the time they leave, as revealed in their exit surveys.


First impressions and beyond

The first opportunity to learn about organisational purpose is during recruitment. Onboarding should expand on the narrative and deepen this understanding, and from there, it should be integrated into every aspect of business as usual (BAU).


Strategies for embedding purpose

Consistency is key

Every touchpoint should reinforce your purpose. The messaging should be clear and consistent, no matter who the messenger is. Organisational purpose should filter down from the vision/mission, into values and behaviours, then into strategy, structures, and the way things work. This is especially critical in larger councils, where the distance between executive leadership and frontline staff can dilute the message.


Leadership communication

KPMG's findings highlight the pivotal role of leader communication in team engagement and morale. Just having a purpose isn’t enough; it’s the communication of this purpose that truly engages and retains staff. 


The magic of alignment

Magic can happen when team members feel their work is aligned with the council's purpose. It paves the way for deeper engagement, improved performance, and greater retention. 

Misalignment, on the other hand, can be highly destructive. A lack of purposeful discussion by leaders can lead to disillusionment and as KPMG found: people are three times more likely to consider leaving the organisation.

FACT: Employees are three times more likely to leave an organisation if they don't feel aligned or engaged with the organisation's purpose.


Key takeaways for council leaders

The key takeout from Revolving Doors, on this subject, is for leaders to be clear on value and organisational purpose and to communicate it, often. If things are at the developmental stage, that’s ok. Do it from the bottom up if it can’t be done from the top down. Know that people want to see the “golden thread” connecting them and their work to the organisation’s purpose, and how their contribution makes a difference.


  • Be clear and communicative: Clearly define and regularly communicate your council's purpose and values.
  • Engage from all angles: If top-down communication is challenging, adopt a bottom-up approach. Ensure every employee sees the "golden thread" that links their work to the overarching purpose.
  • Purpose in practice: Make purpose an integral part of every process and decision. Show how each role contributes to the bigger picture.


To round it all up... the journey to a more engaged, productive, and retained workforce begins with purpose. For councils, where the impact on community and employee satisfaction is paramount, understanding and communicating purpose is not just beneficial - it's essential. Be deliberate in your approach to embed purpose in your council's culture. By doing so, you not only enhance employee engagement and performance but also contribute to a workplace that truly feels extraordinary.

Let’s be purposeful, together.

Date: 20th December 2023
Category: Employee Experience
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