November 19, 2019
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An innovative program at Allstate is helping employees and agency owners find their purpose

What gives your life purpose? Allstate CEO Tom Wilson on the power of purpose and how the company is helping its employees find their own.

What’s your purpose in life? That’s a question many people spend years trying to answer. But Allstate is focused on helping their employees discover it. That’s according to Tom Wilson, the Chair, President, and CEO of Allstate. In a conversation today with Alison Stewart at The Atlantic’s Power of Purpose event in New York City, Wilson discussed the responsibilities of corporations to help people succeed.

Wilson has previously called for more companies to create more high value jobs in a New York Times op-ed. But in addition to providing those jobs, Wilson emphasized how important it was that people working for the company find their purpose as well. “People are our key asset and we want them to be motivated,” he said.

That’s why Allstate began offering Energy for Life workshops that helps employees and Allstate agency owners figure out their personal purpose and then how to build their lives around it.

“It’s freeing for people. It’s freeing to know what your purpose is, to write it down and to share it with other people,” said Wilson. “It helps you define yourself the way you want to define yourself.”

The program involves a person writing down their current story, and then their ideal purpose, before sharing it with friends and family. “If you share it with others you change the system you operate in,” said Wilson. The next step in the process is to write a new story with concrete steps to achieving that personal purpose.

So far, 34,000 people have gone through the program. Wilson believes that employees have become more engaged with what they do. And in some cases, that increased engagement involves them following a different career path. “Some people have left us and I’m OK with that,” he said, citing one participant, “one of the best-rated insurance guys in the world,” who realized his calling to become a math teacher.

So what’s Wilson’s purpose? He says it’s to help other people achieve more success in their lives, and that this declaration has changed the way he does performance reviews.

Wilson believes the biggest obstacle in place for people is that they don’t make the time to make the big changes. “Your life happens a day at a time unless you step out of it and ask, ‘why am I doing this?’” he said.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.