Company Culture | Article

Why Company Values Matter and How to Bring Them to Life

Are employees becoming more ethically driven? It seems so, as more and more people want to work at companies with values that match their own.

Why do company values matter?

Research says it all and it’s saying that employees care about company values. A survey by Blue Beyond Consulting resulted in 80% of US and Canadian workers stating that it is important their company’s values are consistent with their own. Yet only 57% of employees reported that their values do actually align. About half of respondents said a misalignment would lead them to quit.

The Great Resignation left behind an overabundance of positions for people to choose from. This created the opportunity for workers to seek not only higher pay and better perks, but also companies that better align with their values. Bearing all of this in mind, leaders need to hone in on their core values and ensure they are bringing them to life.

How to Bring Your Company Values to Life

1. Don’t just send out a survey

Defining your company’s core values should not be a democratic process. Many organizations turn to employee surveys to gather input, but this could be the wrong move. You run the risk of incorporating suggestions from employees that might not be a great fit at your company. Some employees may not even want to be there.

The reality is that not everyone’s opinion is equally valuable. Rather than trying to gather a consensus, curate a specific team for your value efforts. It should be a small team comprised of individuals like the CEO, founder(s), and a handful of key employees.

2. Think about who you want to replicate

Analyze your best employees. Think about the qualities they have that you would like to see others emulate. Choosing values this way will help harmonize your core values with your mission and future goals. Down the road when you highlight employees for living out those values, others will strive to do the same. It’s a great way to replicate your best people!

3. Be unique & authentic

Try to avoid picking too many vague, cookie-cutter values. There’s no doubt that values like quality and customer satisfaction have an important place. However, they may not be lay out a clear enough guide for employee behavior. Plus, your company’s values may end up blending in with all the others. Differentiating your values from your competitors’ can be an advantage.

But this doesn’t mean you should be choosing random values just because they sound unique or trendy. Stay true to your company and be genuine. Even if that means picking some of the “basic” values. In the words of HBR, “be aggressively authentic” as you live out those values and let them drive strategic decisions.

4. Take your time

Don’t rush through the process of setting your company values. They are far too important to get wrong! Allow time for reflection and let discussions span across a few months if needed. Consider asking these questions as you make your final value picks:

  • How will these values be played out in our workplace today?
  • Will these values still hold true in the future?
5. Incorporate core values everywhere

Once you’ve locked in the right values, integrate them into everything you can. List them in job descriptions. Discuss them in interviews. Teach them during onboarding. Weave them into goal planning. Use them as criteria for promotions. Highlight them through nominations, awards, and daily praise.

When you incorporate your core values everywhere, employees will be constantly reminded of them. Better yet, employees will take the values to heart.

Having solid core values is beneficial to both your company and your employees. As a company, you are more likely to recruit and retain engaged employees that fit into your culture. As an employee, you are more likely to experience belonging and satisfaction. It’s truly a win-win situation.