Nearly 83% of employees not only want meaning in their careers, they want to work for companies that offer “solutions to important societal and environmental problems,” according to consulting firm PwC.
Jeff Aronin, Chairman and CEO of Paragon Biosciences, knows how important meaningful work is to talented employees who want to make a difference. After more than two decades as a life science entrepreneur, Aronin says, “The best advice I’ve received — and now pass along as a mentor — is to build companies of meaning.”
Jeff Aronin’s Paragon Biosciences is a life science innovator that invests in, builds, and advises independent portfolio companies that create biopharmaceuticals and advanced life science technologies. For Aronin and his team, working in the life science industry requires dedication and patience because drug development often takes years, and sometimes decades, of time and investment.
In building companies of meaning, Jeff Aronin has surrounded himself with “(teams) of purpose-driven experts” since starting the first of several successful bioscience companies over the past 20 years. To attract the best, Aronin says, “I hire entrepreneurial problem solvers who share my patient-centric mission.”
Mission and purpose not only drive successful patient outcomes – they drive growth in many industries. Professional services giant KPMG recently reported that nearly 60% of companies with “a clearly articulated and understood purpose” had a growth rate of at least 10% over a three-year period.
However, many companies have work to do in developing a purpose-driven culture.
A majority of workers told leadership training company BetterUp that their work is only half as meaningful as it could be. Also, Gallup reported that only “about 1 in 8 workers” were “psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.”
BetterUp said that mission-focused companies suffer less workforce disruption, grow faster and deliver more innovation, adding that workers who find their jobs highly meaningful stay in their positions an average of 7.4 months longer than workers who do not.
Workplace meaning also matters in management, BetterUp notes. Supervisors who feel they are doing meaningful work leave their jobs at only half the national turnover rate, keeping top-performing teams in place.
Thought leaders maintain that workplace meaning should be a universal objective. At the 2016 Aspen Institute Ideas Festival, New York Times columnist David Brooks stressed that meaningful work is important to employees at all levels, not just high earners or business leaders. Said the columnist, “There is no income level at which people are not desperate for meaning.”
What factors contribute to workplace meaning?
Employees rank personal growth as the biggest contributor to workplace meaning, according to BetterUp. Employees also want their companies to have a strong sense of shared purpose and the opportunity to do work that helps others, BetterUp adds. Camaraderie and other signs of “strong social support” can also improve workplace meaning, according to the firm.
At Jeff Aronin’s Paragon Biosciences, success is all about shared purpose. Aronin’s team members have career-long track records of successful FDA drug approvals and a deep commitment to “developing treatments for otherwise underserved patient populations.”
To persevere through challenges, Aronin explains, “You have to believe that you’re doing something that matters.”