Employees who want to move up in the workplace better quickly buy into the goals and values of their employer, new research shows.
A study by researchers at Brigham Young University revealed that employees who are "true believers" in the mission of their organization become more influential in important company circles, while those simply focused on punching the clock become more peripheral players.
John Bingham, a BYU professor and one of the study's co-authors, said many organizations, like Patagonia, Whole Foods Market, The Body Shop and Intel, have a well-defined mission with principles that matter, not only to employees, but to other stakeholders.
"It's a shift from the old paradigm," Bingham said. "In these companies, it's less about who you know."
Researchers surveyed employees at businesses with mission-based cultures. One of those organizations was an outdoor footwear manufacturer founded on principles of environmental sustainability that engages in green policies, such as subsidizing employees who ride bikes to work and buying electricity generated by wind power.
"Those who were true believers in this company's cause were considered idea leaders and influenced how other employees viewed their work," Bingham said. "If the mission is a legitimate part of an organization's identity, that tends to be the case."
Bingham believes this trend will well serve the growing number of employees eager to work for companies with a strong mission and that having a mission-based organization has great potential to recruit and retain top talent.
"But it has to be legitimate," he said. "If top management doesn't believe it or is simply using it as a ploy, it doesn't work."
The study, which appears online in the management journal Organization Science, was co-authored by BYU professor Jeffery Thompson, incoming BYU business professor Jeffrey Bednar, Ohio State University's James Oldroyd and Stuart Bunderson of Washington University.