The YouGov survey was commissioned by food and drink company Danone UK to inform a report, titled The Courage of Their Convictions, that explores how important it is for companies to have a purpose beyond profit.
It asked respondents, who were all below board level, whether they believe the company they work for has a purpose beyond profit, which the question defined as "a reason which inspires those in a company to find their work meaningful beyond just making money, and provides benefit to local and global society".
Respondents were divided into the 49 per cent who answered in the affirmative and the 46 per cent who answered in the negative (five per cent answered ‘don’t know’), and asked if they agreed with the following statements:
"I say more positive than negative things about my company" – 81 per cent of people who answered that they worked in purpose-led companies agreed, while only 40 per cent of people who answered that they didn’t work in purpose-led companies agreed.
"I feel engaged and committed to my work" - 89 per cent of people who answered that they worked in purpose-led companies agreed, while 59 per cent of people who answered they didn’t work in purpose-led companies agreed.
In addition, only 24 per cent of those in purpose-led companies felt that stress caused by managerial pressure on short-term results negatively affected employee engagement at their company, compared to 44 per cent of those in non-purpose-led companies.
However, there was little difference between the two groups when asked if they would take a pay cut to work at a purpose-led company. Of the purpose-led company workers, 29 per cent said they were fairly or very likely to do so, but with the non-purpose-led company workers, that fell to 27 per cent.
The report, by think tank Tomorrow’s Company, also contains qualitative research based on interviews with senior leaders from Danone, John Lewis, Mars, Philips, Tata Consultancy Services and Unilever.
Liz Ellis, HR director at Danone UK & Ireland, said: "In our experience, if an organisation fits the personal values of an individual and gives them a sense of purpose, people will naturally contribute both within their role and to the wider business.
"The ongoing job for companies like ours is two-fold: to ensure that the purpose is clear, meaningful and relevant to all, and to empower people to make a difference."