What Inspires People

A Gallup survey reported that less than a quarter of workers are fully “engaged” in their work, costing the US economy $300bn per year (and £50bn in the UK). “The costs of failing to engage people’s hearts and minds are huge. This damages performance whatever the economic climate” commented Ci Survey Director Professor Charles Jackson, “but in tough times people’s commitment is really put to the test. We have found in our initial research that companies with a strong sense of purpose are able to carry people through tough times. Loyalty to a cause, and to colleagues, are still valuable commodities”.

The Ci Inspiration at Work survey in 2001, based on 2,000 responses from business professionals and workers within charities and NGOs, set out to discover what it takes to ignite the kind of motivation and loyalty often only reserved for a start-up or charitable cause, and involved inspiring commercial companies, entrepreneurial start-ups and non-profit organisations including the international charity Oxfam. The research discovered how people feel about the purpose of their organisation and what “motivates” them in their work. Using a confidential survey and a series of focus groups, led by Professor Jackson, Ci identified what it takes to be an “Inspiring Company” that combines a clarity of purpose and scale of impact with a culture of innovation and enterprise.

Amongst a range of striking results, the research shows the impact of effective career discussions, and lists “ethical reputation” and “personal impact” as the top two factors that retain people’s loyalty.