KPMG reports that today’s employees not only want more satisfaction in their careers, they want to work for leaders who will help them make a positive mark on society. 

Leaders who embrace this need won’t just attract top talent, says KPMG – their organizations will grow faster. To Jeff Aronin, Chairman and CEO of Paragon Biosciences, offering such purpose-driven work helps build “companies of meaning.” 

Aronin, who has built not one, but several successful life science companies, explains: “I’ve learned to focus (my staff) on the needs of patients.” Aronin adds that working to address high unmet medical needs with a mission-driven team of experts “makes a really big difference.”

KPMG says building purpose-driven companies can offer other quantifiable rewards. In a 2019 study, the professional services firm noted that nearly 60% of companies “with a clearly articulated and understood purpose” experienced growth of 10% or more. 

Jeff Aronin’s “companies of meaning” have grown at an impressive pace. Aronin’s Paragon Biosciences has launched seven portfolio companies in just two years, focused on biopharmaceuticals and advanced life sciences technologies

In 2019, Paragon Biosciences’ independent portfolio companies reached significant milestones, including an FDA drug approval for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in adult patients with narcolepsy, clinical advancements in potential therapies to treat Tourette Syndrome and stuttering, and further advancement of the first FDA-cleared, artificial intelligence enabled breast cancer system for radiology.

Aronin’s philosophy and focus have enabled Paragon Biosciences and its portfolio companies to attract top employees with advanced skills and sincere dedication – who are “deeply committed to developing treatments for otherwise underserved patient populations,” Aronin says.

According to consulting firm Deloitte, “mission-driven” companies deliver other advantages as well, including a 30% higher level of innovation and 40% higher levels of employee retention. Deloitte also notes that such companies tend to be first or second in their market segment. 

Research from LinkedIn adds that purpose-driven companies tend to produce team members who are more fulfilled in their work, more likely to be in leadership positions, and perhaps most significantly, are more inclined to share their positive employment experience with friends and colleagues, which drives recruitment. 

Where do traditional incentives like compensation and benefits rank for today’s job seekers? Surprisingly low on the list, according to online employment site Glassdoor. 

Prospective hires told Glassdoor that their No. 1 search priority was workplace culture, followed by the quality of senior leadership, future career opportunities within the organization, the employer’s business outlook and overall work/life balance. Compensation and benefits were considered only after these preceding factors. 

What defines a healthy culture? Glassdoor says prospective hires want to see an environment of putting people first, diversity, integrity, innovation and recognition of high performance. 

Glassdoor says that the right culture keeps top employees in the fold, adding that 69% of employed workers reported they remained motivated and engaged “because of our strong company mission.”

In drug development, a process that can take years and even decades, Jeff Aronin says that it’s critical for all employees to embrace a shared sense of purpose. He adds, “To persevere through challenges, you have to believe that you’re doing something that matters.”