For the past few years, the Great Resignation has caused experts everywhere to ask the same question—“why?” But understanding why people have been leaving their jobs in droves requires understanding something else first: the cultural shift towards the search for purpose. In April, Worth collaborated with The Purpose Summit to facilitate a conversation on the Great Resignation and to discuss how leaders can be sure to maintain the top talent they worked so hard to recruit. This intimate webinar included Davin Salvangno, founder and CEO of PurposePoint and cofounder of The Purpose Summit; Amber Selking, VP of leadership and culture at Lippert and founder of the Selking Performace Group; and Garry Ridge, CEO and chairman of the WD-40 Company and founder of The Learning Moment. The conversation was moderated by Worth’s editorial director, Emily Cegielski. 

The pandemic has shed light on the nationwide crisis of purpose that has resulted in a massive upheaval in the U.S. labor market. Although there is a tendency to attribute this crisis solely to the pandemic, Salvagno points out that the shift actually started as early as 2018—leading him to cofound The Purpose Summit in 2019. “The great resignation was the result of decades of companies treating employees like human-doings rather than human beings,” Salvagno said. “So, there has been this longing for an escape, a change from what we had known the workplace to be…75 percent of people who left their jobs in 2018 were leaving because they were looking for more purpose and meaning, and many were actually taking a pay cut so they could go to a job where they could find more purpose and meaning” he continued. 


Salvagno, Selking and Ridge have all recognized a similar shortcoming in workplace culture commonly created by business leaders: the gap between an individual’s sense of purpose and an organization’s sense of purpose. There is a strong correlation between both employers’ and employees’ goals because without a clear mission ingrained into the cultural fiber of an organization, it is easy for employees to feel disengaged and isolated. Selking points out that the history of humanity is one of community and family, and therefore, it is natural for people to crave a sense of belonging in their workplace. “In a world that has created so much division, I think businesses create a unique opportunity for us to reinstill a sense of community and purpose and belonging for people,” she commented. 

A strong sense of belonging, community and purpose is also something Ridge has carefully cultivated at WD-40 over the last quarter of a century. He believes that organizations need to supply their employees with not only a sense of belonging but also a sense of higher purpose. “Imagine a place where you go to work every day—you make a contribution to something bigger than yourself, you learn something new, you are protected and set free by a compelling set of values and you go home happy.” Ridge continued, “happy people create happy families, happy families create happy communities, happy communities create a happy world. We need a happy world. And who can do this? We can as leaders.” 

For attendees, hearing the three panelists speak to the issue of purpose and fulfillment in the workplace was an inspiring experience. The panelists brought insights most often found in intimate chats with close friends and family to an open forum. They examined the universally shared desire for professional and personal fulfillment, and it was difficult not to share in their sense of excitement for the change true leadership can incite. 


To learn more from these three experts and many more incredible leaders, tune into The Purpose Summit taking place on May 17-19. Click here, to learn more about the summit and reserve your seat.