We all have personal values that guide our daily decisions and form the basis of our personalities. Without these values, we wouldn’t have direction or a solid reason to choose one path over another. Just as we all (whether we are conscious of it or not) have core values, so does every organisation (whether they are aware of them or not).
Company values are more than simple words or a marketing ploy. They say a lot about your organisation — where it has come from, what it prioritises, and where it is going. They are a huge part of your company culture and your brand. Company values can unite and empower employees when they are carefully thought-out and articulated. On top of this, as one source puts it, “personal commitment to an employer’s core values is the top driver of employee engagement.”
But values are useless if nobody knows what they are or why they matter. So how can a company create a motivational set of values, and how can they bring them to life?
Involve Your Employees
The first step is to clearly define your company values. If you haven’t yet done this, it’s a good idea to get your employees involved from the offset. Ask for their opinions and thoughts about their understanding of the company and its values. What does the organisation fundamentally believe and represent? How does it treat its employees, customers, or clients — and what does it prioritise above money?
To get an accurate reflection of where your company stands currently, invite opinions from employees of all departments and across all levels of seniority. From here, you can decide where you want the company to go and which values will help to achieve these goals. Involving your employees will ensure they feel valued and integral to this plan and to your company.
Start with Recruitment — Hire Based on Company Values
Once you have your values set, you need to start living by them. This means using them to guide your decision making — and this should begin in the recruitment phase.
To bring your values to life, you need to select employees who are going to exemplify and live up to them. Make sure you choose candidates who align with your values. To get the right candidates on the shortlist, you will need to write job adverts that highlight these values. Prospective employees have the right to know what they are in for before they commit to an interview, and being careful with your wording will ensure no company time is wasted interviewing employees who clearly aren’t a good cultural fit.
Reward and Promote Based on Company Values
Company values are an integral part of your organisation and should, therefore, be considered when rewarding and recognising employees, but also when it comes to promotion. Publicly acknowledge and reward an employee when he or she is exhibiting a company value. This will help to emphasize these values while keeping them fresh and alive in the minds of your employees.
This policy also applies to promotions. You want to promote employees who personify your company values.
Incorporate Company Values into Performance Reviews
You need to integrate company values into your performance management system — specifically into your frequent one-on-one performance reviews. Communication will keep your values alive in the minds of your employees. They should be discussed regularly, and managers should be there to advise employees on how they can live these values and integrate them into their work.
Explain Why Company Values Matter
Values are no good to anyone unless your employees understand them. Take the time to meet with your people, either one-on-one or in a large focus group, and discuss each company value and why it is important to your organisation. Clearly articulating the value and why it is crucial to your business will help employees understand you aren’t simply paying lip service to these values — they actually matter.
Lead by Example
Employees are constantly observing their leaders. They look to them to understand what is acceptable within your organisation and what behaviour is rewarded. Because of this, leaders play a critical role when it comes to bringing company values to life. They quite literally need to lead by example. They need to abide by the company values if they want others in the organisation to personify them, too. This will encourage higher levels of trust, which will, in turn, impact overall company performance.
Let Company Values Guide Every Decision
Of course, the best way of bringing these core values to life is to use them every day. They need to guide every decision made within the company. Managers, HR, and employees need to live and work by your company’s values every day. From hiring to firing to the finer, day-to-day decisions made by employees, they should be encouraged to ask — does this action support company values? Promoting this mindset will help these values flourish while deeply ingraining them into your company culture.