Cultivating Purpose During the Pandemic

May 15, 2020


“When we think of others, care for others or believe what we do matters, it raises our spirits and creates a much healthier state of mind, regardless of circumstances.” I caught this sentiment from Larry Senn on LinkedIn recently about the value of purpose. It reminds me how valuable it is for businesses to be cultivating purpose right now. 

At a time when we feel overwhelmed and uncertain, purpose brings clarity and focus. As Senn suggests, purpose lifts us out of what’s in front of us and elevates our thinking to serving the broader group. It also fosters connection.

Each of these – clarity, connection and service to others – are important as we navigate the next phase of this pandemic. I recently provided some tools for checking in with your team and resetting your communications approach. Now, I want to shift my focus to re-engaging and recharging your team around purpose. One of the best ways to connect to your purpose is finding and sharing stories.


Stories are one of the most important parts of your culture. They’re relatable, memorable and inspiring; just like your purpose. The easiest way to find stories is to ask. If you don’t already have a process in place to solicit or request employee stories, send a short survey or an all-employee email. 

Ask a basic question like: 

a) What have you learned about our organization during the pandemic? b) How have we demonstrated our purpose during this time?
c) In what ways have you or your team delivered excellence to a collegue or customer during the past few weeks? 

Unless you’re doing a full employee survey, pick just one or two questions. Require or encourage people to identify themselves. While I’m a proponent of anonymous feedback, it’s not the same with story-finding. You need to know whose story you’re telling and you’ll likely want to interview them for specifics.


Clarity and consistency are two important factors in building purpose and aligning your business around it. The first step is to be clear about your purpose so you can determine how each story connects to it. If you develop a cohesive thread that connects your stories, you will reinforce your purpose.  

As these stories layer together, you build credibility and foster trust. The goal of story-building is to create a series of stories that demonstrate your purpose in the words and experiences of your employees, customers and partners. 


Now that you’ve procured a series of stories that align to your purpose, it’s time to share them. While the blanket approach is tempting, where you find a story and blanket it across all of your channels, I would advise against it right now. Focus on recharging your internal team first. 

Research shows when your employees are connected to the organization’s purpose, they perform better and are more engaged. Even before the pandemic, I always focused internally first. You risk losing credibility with your customers if your employees aren’t aligned first. 

Fortunately, there are so many great ways to share stories with your employees – emails from executives or managers, virtual town halls, intranet posts, printed pieces, testimonials or animated videos. The key is to give some forethought into the delivery, duration and calls to action. 

In my experience, stories yield more stories. Once you create a meaningful, consistent delivery platform, people begin to proactively share their stories. So provide a place for your employees to share their stories. Once you’ve started to build credibility with your team and people are engaging with the content, begin to craft a similar plan to share these stories with your external audiences. 

If this post piqued your interest, you might enjoy my upcoming (free) webinar, “Cultivating Purpose: Re-engaging your team and building connection with brand purpose,” on May 29.  In it, I will provide more specific details on purpose, culture-building and story-crafting. You can find more details at:




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Karen Bailey is a brand purpose consultant and specializes in helping companies define their purpose and align their business around it. In 2017, she launched the blog, Purpose Greater Than Profit, to start a meaningful conversation about the increasingly important role of brand purpose, purposeful leadership and a better way of doing business.


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