Aligning management with purpose, a prerequisite for talents

In an era of “fake news” and “greenwashing”, and with talent scarcity becoming increasingly important to business growth and competitive differentiation, understanding the aspirations of individuals in fulfilling their mission has never been more important.

The book “The Next Generation Enterprise”, based on the testimonies of 250 leaders in 30 countries who have adopted new forms of governance and a strong, unifying purpose, shows that these organizations have successfully combined a distributed authority management style with a focus on a positive impact mission.

These enterprises prefigure a new concept of work, a renewed capitalism, and greater political responsibility on the part of private economic actors, as well as associations and the public sector. They are comfortable with the idea of making profit as long as they respond in the same way to the social and environmental problems that currently disturb our social pact and the balance of the world.

Of course, it seems easier to apply these principles to new organizations that are free of liabilities and inertia. But if we are to accelerate the movement, we must also get our existing business leaders to change. And those who will not? They are likely to disappear prematurely, swept away by the flood of talent now pouring into next generation enterprises.

These enterprises prefigure a new concept of work, a renewed capitalism, and greater political responsibility on the part of private economic actors, as well as associations and the public sector. They are comfortable with the idea of making profit as long as they respond in the same way to the social and environmental problems that currently disturb our social pact and the balance of the world.

2022 recruitment and talent retention challenges

Catherine Touvrey, General Manager of Harmonie Mutuelle within the VYV Group, affirms: 
“The managerial dimension is one of the main reasons for our approach as an enterprise with a mission”. She adds, “our purpose represents the most effective recruitment tool we have. I can see this across all generations and especially with young people (recruits, working students, community service students)”. Catherine takes time twice a year to listen to these new driving forces together and let them decide the agenda. This year, they chose the topics of the environment and digital disruption. The first pair to speak consisted of a materials engineer who had decided to resume his studies on ecological materials and an expert in youth work and local missions who, at the age of 30, had decided to pursue a master’s degree in environmental studies. Catherine Touvrey admits it, “if we had not gone into this dynamic of an enterprise with a mission, these people would not have come to us. They teach us a lot and connect with the desire to be players, which is particularly strong in one part of society and among young people”.

In general, Harmonie Mutuelle’s CEO describes a big swing in terms of recruitment: 
“We want to focus more on personality and potential in recruitment than on strict expertise. Our purpose is promising: take action on the social, environmental and economic factors that improve the health of individuals as well as that of society by mobilizing the power of collectives. This is a great opportunity for people who want to become actors or even activists.”

Outreach this year is focused on expert profiles (digital, data and strategic marketing) and scarce profiles (sales and IT developers). “It’s a war, especially for sales people, and not just in the insurance industry.”

Véronique Lacour, Executive Director of Transformation and Operational Efficiency at EDF, emphasizes the French giant’s mission to transform energy and fight global warming.
“The desire to create a carbon-neutral future with electricity and innovative solutions and services for our customers is what attracts talent. In 2022, 15,500 new employees, including working students and interns, will have the opportunity to join EDF and participate in this great ambition. The Transformation and Operational Efficiency department is the driving force behind the company’s transformation thanks to its cross-functional activities, whether in real estate, procurement, digital or shared services. New technologies are among the powerful levers for changing practices in all areas of the business. Digital technology is opening up new opportunities for EDF’s activities in its role as an industrial company, in its relationships with its customers and in its internal operations. Career opportunities within the Group in the digital field are very diverse thanks to the diversity of its business units, covering areas such as data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud or even cybersecurity, which attracts talent.”

For Géraldine Vial-Kraemer, Director of Talent, Culture and HR Innovation at KPMG, recruitment ambitions are high: 2,500 talented people are being sought, including 1,600 on permanent contracts and 900 interns and working students, with skills in ESG particularly in demand.

As with Harmonie Mutuelle and EDF, digital and ESG competencies take the lion’s share. Géraldine does not mention any trendy effects: “We want to develop ESG skills in all our activities and in all our BUs via junior and experienced profiles in sustainable finance, responsible sourcing, green IT and carbon accounting; in digital, our needs for data, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence are growing rapidly”.

KPMG, under the impetus of its Board of Directors, its partners and especially Marie Guillemot, its President, wants to become the first company committed to responsible value creation. For Géraldine Vial, this dynamic will involve the entire company, its employees and its offerings. In addition to investing in training so that everyone can participate in this change on a daily basis, KPMG has been making other commitments by doubling the number of hours of skills sponsorship, particularly through the Foundation, for young students or through environmental initiatives for over 15 years.

Fostering commitment through the liberation of initiative and flexibility

For Véronique Lacour, the secret of commitment lies in the desire to learn, develop and take initiatives: “we do not ‘lock up’ our talents into the position for which they join us; for example, young people have access to cross-functional assignments that allow them to contribute to the enterprise’s larger challenges that go beyond their day-to-day job. In my department, a group of “digital natives” took up the subject of responsible digital work last year and suggested that we expand our ambitions in this area even further. The result quickly emerged, as EDF became the first energy company to be awarded the Responsible Digital Label by the French Institute for Digital Responsibility”.


As a long-term player that looks beyond quarterly profitability, Harmonie Mutuelle promotes responsible governance, innovative and high-quality social dialogue, and invests in an inclusive leadership culture and greater autonomy.
With equal representation of men and women in its political and managerial components, the mutual company also addresses diversity of origin, disabilities and chronic illness in particular. These elements transcend pro/perso boundaries.

At the management level, “we are moving toward a logic of responsibility, of greater autonomy based on philosophical conviction” says Catherine Touvrey. For senior managers, this approach goes hand in hand with identifying individual talents (Strengths Finder), developing them and transforming them into competencies. “We do a lot of peer and talent assessments to move from a logic of expertise to one of transferable skills for other activities”.

“Soft skills”, or what some sociologists call the ability to put one’s expertise and skills at the service of a group, significantly determine a profile’s ability to thrive and achieve a career in a Group.
At KPMG, Géraldine Vial and her team have developed the “48H Khrono” junior recruitment sessions. These sessions are based on several phases, including group interaction and informal exchanges to understand what is important to the candidates, their values and their qualities.

“Above all, we seek team spirit, civic engagement, curiosity and courage, integrity, trust and excellence.”
The HR team also used the internal ecosystem to launch a collaborative challenge on New Ways of Working, where employees could propose and implement the concrete actions they would like to see emerge within KPMG. With everyone’s votes and a jury, several projects were selected, including the “work where you want” project, which allows anyone to work from any office in the Group.

Fostering commitment through the liberation of initiative and flexibility

As an enterprise with a mission, Harmonie Mutuelle is pursuing a climate strategy in 2022 that aims to reduce around 50% of its emissions within scope 3 (upstream/downstream) by 2030. In 2019, the organization had estimated its carbon impact at 160 kg per person.

In addition to this global perspective, there are also industry initiatives such as that of the Ecouter/Voir chain of stores, which has proposed “harmonie friday” instead of “black friday” to recycle old glasses through humanitarian organizations and showcase their ecological product lines. Catherine Touvrey says, “it is a logic and a new dynamic that needs to be set in motion, and we are going to do the same with our medical supply stores and our funeral services to make those products and services green. That’s at least as important as working on the employee commuting plan. The fact that we are in “scope 3″ opens up the field of possibilities and stimulates our marketing”.

In 2022, it is also required that each manager formulate at least one priority objective related to the enterprise with a mission and impact and sustainability dimension.

For her part, Géraldine Vial contributes to the “Academy for Good” project to develop the “upskilling” of all the Group’s talents in ESG and management innovation. The approach of the leading auditing and consulting giant in France is to raise awareness and personalize training by profession and business unit. Management by trust must become the cornerstone of recruitment and loyalty.

At EDF, the transformation required to achieve the Group’s ambitions is reflected in every business unit. Each division is mobilized to create an efficient and empowering work environment that fosters engagement. In the department headed by Véronique Lacour, the approach called “TEO way” (for Transformation and Operational Efficiency), positions employees and collectives as actors of the transformation. Each team takes the initiative to simplify or improve the way it operates at its level, or informs its hierarchy of the improvements that would enable it to achieve its goals more efficiently. DTEO’s director notes: “By empowering teams to act and make operations more efficient, and by monitoring activities based on results and performance, we engage them in continuous improvement. As a result, the operation becomes more actionable and efficient”.

This is all the more true given that the pandemic has permanently anchored new ways of working. This management by trust is embodied in the EDF S.A. agreement called “TAMA” for “Travailler Autrement, Manager Autrement” (Work Differently, Manage Differently), which stipulates that each team, as part of its “team project” will determine the way of working that best meets its challenges and activities in order to improve performance, ensure flexibility and autonomy, and enable the practice of teleworking.

Finally, and most importantly, whether the customer is internal or external, the TEO way management system puts in place the stage for everyone to be familiar with the customer’s challenges, priority objectives, and expected operational performance. For Véronique Lacour, “everyone must feel that their daily actions serve the Group’s Purpose.”

Continuously upgrading talents initiative and flexibility

We previously discussed the magnitude of KPMG’s Academy for Good project for a group of over 10,000 employees. According to ADP, 50% of all employees will need to re-skill by 2025. Mercer adds that it is in a company’s financial interest to re-skill 25% of its at-risk employees – rather than recruiting externally.

Véronique Lacour affirms : “Our responsibility as an enterprise is not only to fill new positions with talent recruited from outside, but also to prepare existing employees for these positions. With digital technology and automation, some jobs are in decline. Our “digital academy” offers training courses adapted to the digital sector, enabling employees to enter the growing professions of data analyst, cybersecurity officer or project manager. Teams are generally very excited about the idea of learning new skills and discovering a new profession, and it is also a great advantage to have people in these new professions who are familiar with the company. These courses, offered to volunteer workers, are often taken part-time in the prospective employer’s department and provide an opportunity to acquire new competencies. In addition, the Academy’s catalog is rich with several hundred training courses to help employees in the IS and digital sectors adapt their often highly specialized expertise to the ever-changing environment.”

A crucial integration

Harmonie Mutuelle dedicates 6.5% of its payroll to skills development: commercial transformation, resource activities (digital and customer-focused), performance, management, work culture, and social, societal and environmental impact.

Véronique Lacour is convinced that “we need to make visible the purpose and ambitions of the company, as well as the importance of innovation, right from the recruitment, onboarding and integration stages”. Digital technology offers the opportunity to improve and transform this onboarding and integration phase. “Our internal virtual platform solution, the Metaverse, has enabled us to hold large internal events with our own avatars that can move around and interact in virtual booths. We want to leverage these innovative solutions to strengthen and personalize our onboarding processes”.

At KPMG, we don’t mess around with onboarding! We actually discuss pre-onboarding too. In fact, up to 6 to 9 months can pass between the signing of the contract and the integration phase (notice period, end of schooling). This is an important period that can be used to facilitate the acculturation of candidates to the company’s values, ambitions and project. KPMG’s local presence and feedback from interested candidates have led the firm to personalize its induction programs, sometimes in the form of a one-day meeting with employees, sometimes through seminars or a series of meetings over several weeks.

For Catherine Touvrey, the greatest challenge of this integration phase is to understand and contribute to Harmonie Mutuelle’s work culture, which is based on responsibility and autonomy. It focuses on the principles of collective organization, taking into account health issues and professional living spaces. Newcomers understand how collective work organization facilitates remote work and nomadism and articulates the different times between work, learning and solidarity engagement. Workplace and home health initiatives are often proposed by employees themselves, in the form of conferences on chronic diseases, webinars on stress at work or “let’s take care of ourselves” communities. Management dynamics in hybrid operation are also addressed, as well as the principles of impact in relation to the enterprise with a mission and how each employee can engage in solidarity and activism in one of the dimensions of the organization’s purpose.


From now on, any dissonance between the mission, the values that the organization displays to achieve it, and the management style practiced will be paid for in full; the same applies to discrepancies between the actual and desired way of working of a team or discrepancies in basic processes. An accurate diagnosis will help to avoid unnecessary waste of energy.

It is clear that an insincere mission will inevitably be characterized as “washing” and that this reputational flaw will spread indelibly in the networks like wildfire.

Values in the workplace do not need to be displayed on posters in meeting rooms. They need to be shared transparently and evolve in line with the purpose of the enterprise and its team.

Talents shun dissonance and pretense. They intuitively and simply want to understand their usefulness within an organization while learning and growing in a safe and caring manner. Their employability results from these choices and allows them to best align their personal skills and aspirations.

To make this possible, leaders of next generation enterprises liberate room for maneuver close to those who actually do the work and are in a position to make the best decisions. They anticipate the constant need to reskill their workforces.

These leaders know that commitment comes with a sincere project and a healthy dose of humility. They first show genuine appreciation for people before trying to lead them, and they trust rather than sometimes appear as threats or risks that could psychologically destabilize them.

They know that they do not know (everything) and give themselves every chance to change relationships at work and thus improve society.