It’s official. A whopping 85% of employees worldwide are actively disengaged from the work they do. The financial implication of this disengagement on organizations is $7 trillion lost in productivity.
Workplace disengagement is often caused by a host of factors such as poor pay, bad managers and toxic work cultures.
But interestingly, researchers also find that young professionals are mostly productive when the work they do aligns with their purpose.
This implies career fulfilment goes beyond a monthly paycheck. It requires making a tangible difference in a world seemingly pregnant with problems waiting to be solved.
What’s Your Purpose?
Nigeria is currently grappling with a ‘take what you get’ situation in the job market. This is fuelled by the staggering unemployment rate, which Statista projects will hit 32.5% before the close of this year.
This dire statistic obviously breeds bankers, architects, communication specialists, financial planners and other professionals practising their craft just to pay the bills. But sooner or later, they are unable to sustain this mismatch, flounder to keep their jobs or resort to an unending cycle of job-hopping. This doesn’t have to be.
Civil rights activist, writer and poet Maya Angelou did say, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
I can attest to this on a personal level. My bachelor’s degree prepared me for a career as a Political Scientist. But I made the switch to Marketing, having found my calling working as a rookie PR executive right out of university.
Eighteen years later, I’m still glad I made that switch. I’m a Brand and Marketing Communication Strategist and I love my job. I help tell the story of my organization in impactful ways that resonate with our target audience, converting them to loyal customers. Have you found yours?
Defining Your Purpose
Purpose is not necessarily the skill set that keeps you employed. After all, it’s possible for anyone to pick up a skill through active or passive learning. You’ll know your purpose when you find it. It feels natural, leaves you unfulfilled until you exploit it, and ultimately enriches other people’s lives.
Take the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, for example. He discovered his purpose twice! While studying for his degree at Princeton in the 80’s, he substituted Physics with Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Years later, he again left his Hedge Fund career on Wall Street to found Amazon in the far-flung e-Commerce industry. We all know how that turned out.
Chimamanda Adichie did not start out with a pen. She only discovered her passion for writing one and half years after studying Medicine and Pharmacy. Thereafter, she switched to Communications and Political Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She has Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah and a MacArthur Fellowship to show for it.
Popular businesswoman Folorunso Alakija is number 20 on the list of Africa’s billionaires for 2020. She struck oil wealth as a Joint Venture Partner with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited. Before that, she left a 12-year career in banking to start her fashion label, Rose of Sharon, which shot her into the limelight as a trustee of fashion and style. This set the stage for her renown as an oil industry magnate.
These professionals are drawn from different fields, but their commonality lies in discovering their purpose and using it to make a tangible difference in their respective spheres.
Communicating Your Purpose
There’s no justifiable excuse for obscurity in this digital age. An estimated 4.66 billion people use the internet. This presents a level playing field for everyone to communicate tons of purpose in a flash and be recognised for it.
Nowadays, forward-looking young professionals have little time for idle chit chats on social media when there’s so much value to be communicated.
In integrated marketing communications, look and feel, tonality and messaging must be consistent for a brand to stand out from the competition. By the same token, we best communicate our differentiation from the crowd if our likes, shares, connections and entire digital footprint remain consistent with our purpose.
Google’s ‘people card’ helps put your best foot forward in cyberspace. All you need do is sign-in to your Google account, search for ‘edit my people card’ and input relevant information such as your name, profile picture, career summary, website and more. Voila! This information pops up when your name is typed into Google search, helping you begin the process of communicating your purpose.
I can’t emphasize enough why every young professional should be visible on LinkedIn. The B2B platform boasts 60.1% of users between 25 and 34 years old for a reason. It’s where one’s purpose can be discovered, nurtured, communicated and celebrated. But, of course, this depends on the quality of connections fostered and the frequency of engagement.
Soft reminder: prospective employers or clients often check your digital footprint to confirm your legitimacy for work or business-related engagements. Be sure your digital story aligns with your purpose.
Tying It All Together
As a relatively young professional, I need tangible benefits to drive my purpose. How relevant is the purpose, really, if it can’t help you actualize your measurable life goals? Brian Tracy says it all. Goal setting “remains one of the first steps you’ll take in your journey toward finding your true calling and unparalleled success.”
Count me in. One of my goals is to tour the world one country at a time during vacations. But to achieve that, I need to keep my spending in check and stay on point with savings and investments. Thankfully, I found my organization’s digital value proposition a handy tool.
ALAT by Wema is designed to help young professionals achieve their personal and financial goals without ridiculous fees, low-interest rates and other hassles associated with more conventional banking.
One of the app’s features I find most captivating is the Savings Goals which gives anybody, irrespective of income, the ability to take control of their earnings if they choose. With this feature, it becomes less hassling to set a goal for your savings, and then depending on your threshold for delayed gratification, see an improvement in your financial stability.
Every young Nigerian professional has an estimated 60% of the population to contend with in the struggle for differentiation. It’s a tough call to make in a sea of unemployment, business and regulatory hurdles. But the fact is, those who define and communicate their purpose will always stand out.
Funmilayo Falola is the Head, Marketing, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at Wema Bank.