Why Acting & Working In Alignment With Your Values Is Essential To Workplace Happiness

Why Acting & Working In Alignment With Your Values Is Essential To Workplace Happiness

In this guest post, Phoebe Keogh (lead image), senior strategist at UM Australia, asks when it comes to agencies’ purpose, it might well be worth putting yourself in the shoes of your clients…

Growing customer expectations as it relates to purpose is a hot topic. In the media industry it is our job to make sure these expectations are on the agenda of the brands and businesses that we service, and we would like to think we do this well. However, what we’re not doing well is making sure brands recognise the value of purpose to their employees.

The great resignation, or as others have put it – the great assessment – had me thinking. Does purpose go beyond a key driver to buy for customers; to a key driver to stay for those who work on the business?

What would happen if we reframed and saw ourselves as customers of our employers?

I will never forget swiping out of the UM building in mid-March 2020. We all know what followed. Logging on to Microsoft Teams each day, asking the faces on our screens if they can see your screen or to unmute. You know the clichés.

During this time, I went through my own great reassessment. I left the comfort of the (virtual) walls of UM and considered a future in education. Long story short, I re-joined UM and what is interesting is the new energy I have found in the process.

Many conversations with my directors later, I realised it was up to me to bake purpose into my work and to understand the contribution we are making as media and marketing professionals. I am not alone in this search. Great Place to Work research found that “employees at companies with generous and lasting corporate social responsibility efforts during the pandemic were 15.6 times more likely to say their company was a great place to work.”

Acting and working in alignment with my values has been essential to my workplace happiness. Additionally, I have supplemented my “day job” with a passion project in the sustainability space which, true to form, my directors have been very supportive of.

My “passion project” evolved out of my love for coffee. Pre-pandemic our office was in a good habit of taking our reusable cups from our desks to cafes. But as we worked from home this ritual was replaced with bad habits. And single use coffee cups have piled up in landfill. Now, the typical worker’s lifestyle has shifted to a hybrid model and portability is key. I started Take Me Cup – a reusable takeaway cup brand that, with its malleable material, you can truly take anywhere. Officially partnered with The Carbon Farming Foundation, $1 from every cup sold donated to this not for profit. My business is driven by my interest in making sustainability easier every day and contributing to education in this space. I believe it has helped me give new energy to my job at UM.

Understanding what drives your business or the business you work for, can help you understand your contribution so you can assess if its purpose aligns with your values.

Taking this approach to the businesses I work with in my “day job” is an exercise that I found invaluable. Three examples follow…

The Australian Fashion Council’s (AFC) mission is to champion and guide the evolution of a resilient and inclusive Fashion & Textile Industry. Something that I really value is making accessible, sustainable choices that can be integrated into everyday life because making better choices is hard, when it is hard. Through their work the AFC provides toolkits to the industry to move towards more circular and sustainable practises. They actively deliver on their mission, their purpose.

As a food-based business, Menulog understands and acknowledges its impact and influence on the dynamic of the food industry. Examples of conducting responsible business in action are the local partnerships with OzHarvest and the National Indigenous Culinary Institute. With the link to food clear – Menulog is a great example of a commercial business acting authentically via ESG initiatives. And the benefits stack up. A McKinsey & Company aggregate study proved that “a strong ESG proposition correlates with higher equity returns” that is, of the findings 63% were positive returns versus 8% negative, the rest being flat.

My third and final example is the pro bono work I am empowered to do, with UN Women Australia. UN Women needs no introduction as a global champion for women and girls. Locally, you may be familiar with the #WhenWillSheBeRight campaign which aims to draw attention and awareness to gender inequality. It is incredibility important work, and I am proud to be a part of a team propelling these campaigns into the public domain. Check out the most recent Final Frontier campaign https://unwomen.org.au/get-involved/campaigns/equalityourfinalfrontier/

The cake of it all? Purpose does not just feel good. It’s a key ingredient for success.

PayPal’s President Paul Parisi said: “Developing value-aligned partnerships that focus on common goals is key to ensuring successful outcomes for all.”

Now it is your turn to make a list.

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Phoebe Keogh UM Australia

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