By: Amy Williams
Matching your values with a potential employer’s purpose could result in a more rewarding career, even if it pays less.
Finding your best job-fit is about more than the skills you can offer – research shows employees are more engaged and less likely to move on quickly when their values match that of the organisation they’re working for.
The Sustainable Business Council’s annual snapshot 2016/17 found 66 per cent of New Zealanders would rather work for a company with strong values, even if they were paid less.
AUT senior lecturer and careers specialist Margie Elley-Brown says the first step towards a career with purpose is to determine what’s important to you.
She says many students are interested in issues impacting the world, from environmental concerns to mental health and inequality.
“They need to be self-aware and think about what their values are. They have got to look inwards at what really matters and write a list of organisations.”
Among the courses she teaches is a paper on social entrepreneurship in AUT’s business school, which introduces students to the idea of business with a purpose.
“We introduce them to the hybrid form of business. It’s a crossover business, it makes money to try to alleviate a social issue. Students grasp it and are fascinated,” says Elley-Brown.
Many organisations have corporate social responsibility woven into their business strategies, and also give employees opportunities to volunteer for a charity for a day.
Elley-Brown says jobseekers need to start their research before a job interview, by looking on company websites to see what their stated values are, and also visiting organisations and asking questions about their purpose.
“They’ve got to see their job search as being work, they’ve got to put some energy into it if they want to find a place that has values like theirs,” she says.
That’s true for James Bushell, 31, an ethical business specialist who sits on the board of the Wellington Chocolate Factory and is a director of his consultancy firm Motif. He says it took him some time to figure out his life mission and find a career that gave him a sense of purpose.
He volunteered for charities while working full time, before realising his passion lay in helping companies become more ethical and sustainable – and more profitable.
Bushell sees companies he works with gain higher levels of productivity and engagement, lower turnover, and an ability to attract more educated staff because people want to work for things that they believe in.
“Every company we work with is inspiring in some way in terms of having an impact on some social or environmental issue to create a more ethical and sustainable world,” he says. “That’s what excites me and I really enjoy doing that. I get to do that every day, which is really cool.”