What's your why?

Understand your organization's why

Organizations must recognize why they exist before they can truly succeed in how they carry out their mission.

In his bestselling book and one of the most popular TED Talks of all time, Simon Sinek encourages organizations to dig deeper than their products and services to think about their “why” – their true purpose in society. According to Sinek, organizations must recognize why they exist before they can truly succeed in how they carry out their mission.

This is a critical idea in the context of the current tight labor market. When it comes to recruiting and retaining employees, knowing and being able to communicate your why is even more important than your what. It may be one of your most powerful weapons in the talent recruitment and engagement war.

"Why" in action

A company I work with manufactures equipment that can help save lives; they tout that mission, and their employees get it. They regularly communicate the mission and link it to each job at an individual level. All employees understand that what they are doing makes a difference, whether they’re a manager, welder or painter on the manufacturing line. Employees are engaged in what they’re doing and committed to the company’s success. The company has built a culture where employees are connected to the why and, therefore, are connected to the company.

This also gives the company a strong message in recruiting new employees. They can demonstrate that by choosing to work there, recruits are not only joining a company but also a team that is moving together toward a common, meaningful goal.

Most organizations’ purposes aren’t as dramatic as saving lives, but there are many other worthwhile purposes: helping clients succeed, creating valued products, or providing needed services.

"Why" matters

Multiple employee surveys have shown that, if forced to choose, employees would sacrifice higher pay for a sense of connectedness and purpose. This doesn’t mean employers should strive for higher engagement and a better culture in order to pay lower wages – employee satisfaction requires a minimum threshold of fair pay. However, a strong purpose-driven culture is often the deciding factor that inspires employees to choose one organization over another and decide to stay there.


If you have questions about recruiting or retaining skilled labor, please contact Carrie Cox using her information below.

Carrie Cox

Vice President
HR & Org. Development Services

Carrie has experience in a variety of human resource functions, including labor laws, compensation structures, employee classification, benefits administration, performance management and human resource best practices. She has served clients in a number of industries, including manufacturing, construction, banking, government, and not-for-profits. Carrie is a member of the national and local chapters of the Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRM) and serves on the Wichita chapter board of directors.

She is a certified practitioner for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Hay Group’s Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. Her additional certifications include Certified Professional Coach from the Academy of Creative Coaching, Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from the Human Resource Certification Institute, and SHRM-CP designated by the SHRM.