February 01, 2016

A New Definition of Top Talent

A recently released study by Imperative defines top talent in a different way. The study considers the best talent to be those workers who are purpose-oriented. That means that these workers primarily see work in terms of personal fulfillment and serving others. Others (non-purpose oriented workers) view work in terms of status, advancement, or income. The study claims that people consistently identify with one of these two work orientations as their chief view of work.

Defining “Top Talent”

Among the 150 million people in the U.S. workforce, 28 percent or 42 million were found to be purpose oriented. These workers are found in a variety of industries and roles. According to the study, purpose-oriented workers are the most valuable and highest potential segment of the workforce, no matter what industry or role they are in. These workers are 50 percent more likely to be in leadership positions, 47 percent more likely to be brand ambassadors for employers, and have a 64 percent higher level of fulfillment in the work they do.

The study makes a distinction between work orientation and employee engagement. Gallup defines engaged workers as those workers who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplaces and work. Often, when measuring engagement, companies assume that the workplace environment and culture is the most important variable. Work orientation research, however, indicates that engagement has more to do with who is hired rather than job function or work environment.

In terms of demographics, women and people over the age of 55 are more likely to be purpose-oriented workers. The study found that income and race have little to no impact on work orientation.

Purpose-Oriented Workers by Industry

 The study claims that every industry has at least 16 percent purpose-oriented workers, and no industry has more than 48 percent. The largest percentages of purpose-oriented workers are, not surprisingly, found in education and non-profits. But they are also found in agriculture, biotech, entertainment, and healthcare. These workers are less common in areas such as accounting, business services, finance and banking, retail, and transportation.

Top Talent or Purpose Orientation by Industry

Top Talent or Purpose Orientation by Industry

Source: Imperative