Leading With Purpose and Values

By virtue of their superordinate goals and mission-orientated work, NGOs play an important role in a developing economy like ours, where the majority of workforce in NGOs is young. Hence, it’s imperative for them to build and sustain a great workplace culture to attract/retain quality talent and continue to create significant impact. Looking at the big picture today, the NGOs in India have been able to provide consistently positive work experience to their people over the past years, as evident in the trend.

Note: Trust Index Grand Mean is an average of positive responses to globally standardized statements in our Trust Index Survey

NGOs have not only contributed to this nation by the work they do but also by creating and delivering a wonderful work culture to their employees. Today, 87% of employees in these organizations have said, “Taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work". 

In our research we found that there are two key aspects which largely enable NGOs to create a transparent culture and instil pride amongst the employees: Values and Purpose.

Values – What’s old is new again!

Values aren’t a new age trend. But what’s old is new again—or important in new ways when it comes to maximizing human potential and succeeding today. When we talk about values, we’re not talking about mere slogans on the wall or the hiring page of your company website. We’re talking about principles that guide the day-to-day way people work together at your company. 

Values also are what leaders use to make decisions that cannot be made using spreadsheets and data analysis alone. They are the bedrock principles that guide executives’ choices in complex, and difficult matters - like hiring, firing, geographic expansions, doing more for customers, and mergers.

Our study shows that NGOs that have successfully embedded meaningful values within the organization through their leaders, experience significantly higher intent of employees to stay with the organization, advocacy, motivation, and pride as compared to those that haven’t been able to.

Is just purpose enough?

It’s no secret today that purpose in the workplace is essential, however, it can only be effective if it comes with clarity. When employees experience a sense of purpose at work and believed their leaders set a clear direction and expectations great things happen in terms of performance and impact.

While all people want and need a sense of purpose at work, millennials have been noted as being more willing than their boomer counterparts to prioritize purpose over things like job security or a pay raise. Thus, there is merit in leaders investing time and effort in explaining their mission and values and how the work of everyone connects to the impact made by the organization at large.

India's Best NGOs to Work For 2022 ensure that they articulate their vision very clearly and help every employee see meaning in what they do in connection with the larger vision of the organization. The right set of values and ensuring that decision-making is in line with values has enable them to maximize the potential of their employees. 

A vast majority of India’s workforce currently is under 35 years of age. With a large part of the incoming workforce being millennials, it will be interesting to see how NGOs approach attracting quality talent considering millennials prioritize purpose and meaning over many other aspects. We hope to see increased support for NGOs by way of volunteering and financial support as organizations are also focusing on being more socially and environmentally responsible to attract and retain their people.

-Akshat Shah, Vice President, Great Place To Work® India


Great Place to Work® Institute is the global research and consulting authority on workplace culture, that helps organizations identify, create and sustain a High-Trust, High-Performance Culture™ at their workplaces. The Institute has crafted its perspective by learning from great leaders, surveying millions of employees, and examining thousands of best workplaces around the globe. Great Place to Work® believes that all organizations can become great workplaces and hence, highly productive organizations, by fostering trust within the ethos of their culture – referred to as High-Trust, High-Performance Culture™. The Institute serves businesses, non-profits and government agencies in more than 60 countries and has conducted pioneering research on the characteristics of great workplaces for over three decades.



Akshat Shah

Vice President, Great Place To Work®️ India