Insights From Our Editors

4 Things We Do to Give Our Employees a Sense of Purpose

A team of employees for an optometrist's office pose for a photo in a Salvation Army office, where they did eye exams and distributed free glasses to those in need.

Dr. Sorrenson and members of her practice team in their break room right after they provided free exams and glasses to men who came in from the Salvation Army. 

Specific actions to help employees find purpose and become more engaged.

By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO

August 30, 2023

In my last two columns (read HERE and HERE), I delved into Daniel Pink’s insightful book “Drive,” in which he explores the three pillars of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose as potent means of engaging employees. If you haven’t had the chance to read Pink’s book, I highly recommend it. To help you grasp these three concepts, HERE again is a whiteboard animation.

According to Pink, the third key to cultivating engaged employees is “Purpose.” To me, this aspect is the easiest AND the most challenging to implement. Why do  I find it the “easiest? Because optometry, as a profession, helps people “SEE better, LOOK better and FEEL better!” How cool is that purpose? (Yeah, I love this profession, can’t you tell? )

Yet, why do I also characterize it as the “hardest” to instill a sense of “Purpose” within our employees? The routine tasks can often obscure the bigger picture—the “why” behind everything we do each day. If we neglect to remind our staff that every task that may seem small or minor contributes to helping patients see better, feel better and look better, their connection to the purpose of their job might wane.

How then can we ensure that employees retain a tangible sense of Purpose, thus ensuring their sustained engagement, happiness, and ultimately, superior patient care? Let me share a few practical suggestions.

Frequently Discuss the Practice’s Mission

Integrate your Mission Statement, Vision Statement, or Core Values, into your office meetings. I believe this should be a staple of every gathering within your practice. Starting and/or ending your meetings with one of these can make a profound change in your culture.

Share Patient Success Stories

Consider sharing heartwarming accounts of successful patient experiences in your office or reading a good Google Review at your meetings.

Sharing success stories that underscore the positive outcomes of your employees’ work can further bridge the gap between routine tasks and a larger purpose.

By establishing a clear connection between their responsibilities and a greater objective, employees are more likely to experience a sense of fulfillment and motivation and become more engaged. Engaged employees will deliver better patient care, exhibit increased productivity, experience greater job satisfaction, and be more loyal to the practice.

View Videos Together on Finding Purpose in Work

Another effective strategy involves incorporating particular videos into your practice and using them as a catalyst for meaningful discussions. A video I really like and my staff enjoyed is “Know Your Why” by Michael Jr., who explores the concept of understanding one’s purpose. Utilizing this video to spark a dialogue among your staff about the overarching purpose of your practice, and how each individual role contributes to this greater purpose, can be immensely valuable.

Provide Daily Affirmation to Your Whole Team

It’s crucial to acknowledge that while certain roles in the office, like technicians or doctors, receive daily affirmation of their significance, others, such as insurance specialists or front-desk personnel, might not receive the same level of feedback. Therefore, it’s essential to foster conversations with your team that highlight the broader impact of their contributions.

Regularly communicate your practice’s mission and values, reinforcing how each team member’s efforts align with these aspirations.

Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO, is president of Lakeline Vision Source in Cedar Park, Texas, and the Professional Editor of Review of Optometric Business (ROB). To contact her:



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