Why purpose is my priority in 2021

Ash Alexander,

Head of People at Front

17 December 20200 min read

When I reflect back on 2020, I've learned a lot as a People leader. But there's one thing that sticks out to me as the year wraps up: purpose.

Ever walk out of a movie theater thinking, “Ummm…what was the point of that?”

Maybe after the 5th Fast and Furious…or Lion King 1 1/2 (Sorry to the fans of these 😉!) You know, one of those movies that had no real climax or resolution, and leaves you with no themes or takeaways. You walk to your car thinking, “Welp, there goes $30 and 2 hours…at least the popcorn was buttery?”

The same thing can happen to your work. But of course, when your work feels pointless, the implications are worse.

The year 2020 has taught me a lot of things, as a People leader and as a human. But I think one of the biggest takeaways I’ve gotten from this year is this: you have to know your purpose.

You have to know your purpose because what’s “normal” now can change, pretty quickly. If you know your purpose, the “why” behind what you’re doing, you’ll stay grounded—as an individual, an employee, and as a business.

Knowing the “why”

Knowing your purpose in your personal life is undoubtedly important. As humans we need to feel a sense of belonging and understand where we fit into the society around us.

As an employee, knowing your purpose is critical for staying engaged in your work. In years like this, it’s easy for a project you’re working on or an email you’re writing to feel, well, pointless, in comparison to the outside world.

My team did a survey of 2,000 remote workers across the U.S recently and found that, among some other staggering stats, 58% of people said that working from home has made it difficult for them to see the larger purpose of their job. Without a strong sense of purpose while in the office, how can you be expected to feel invested when you haven’t even set foot in the office in 10 months?

But if you know your “why” it’s easier to connect everyday tasks to your end goals. For my team, that’s making sure employees feel connected, heard, cared for, and supported—helping them navigate tough conversations, empowering them to make their voices heard, and guiding them through career choices.

This year I’ve realized that knowing your purpose as a business is incredibly important too. What do you stand for? What’s important to you? What’s your end goal? When the world comes to a screeching halt, having these values figured out will help you navigate uncertainty and come out stronger on the other side.

That’s why, as the year wraps up, purpose is my priority. As a People leader, I’m working to make sure my team understands their purpose. And for myself, I want to make sure that in everything I do, I know my “why” behind it all.

Written by Ash Alexander

Originally Published: 17 December 2020

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