Corporate values and behaviours - do they matter and if so, what are yours?
Updated: Aug 24
The world has changed and although values have always been important, due to a shift in attitudes and the pandemic, your company values and behaviours are now more important than ever.
The days when an employee signed up for 40 years of service and a carriage clock on retirement are long, long gone, replaced with a significant change in what matters to employees and what creates employee loyalty.
There’s been a lot of research into this. According to a Gallup survey in 2018, back then Gen X and Baby Boomers were already prioritising their desire for ethical leadership, whilst diversity and inclusion were very important to younger generations. Wellbeing and purpose were also identified as increasingly important.
Of course, then the pandemic happened, and many people moved to remote or hybrid working. The importance of a good work life balance was brought into sharp focus. A survey conducted after the pandemic by World Economic Forum found that, “an increased sense of shared values and culture is taking shape, with a heightened focus on building trust and cohesion within teams, especially where employees interact remotely. Three quarters of employees surveyed … want to feel motivated and passionate about … work”.
The research went on to find that,
"employees, consumers and other stakeholders are choosing to engage with companies that prioritise people, communities and champion social challenges and the environment”.
This research is certainly not isolated and what emerges time and time again, is the increased importance to employees of being part of an ethical, inclusive workplace where the work has a purpose and matters. Employees just expect more from employers these days than good pay and traditional benefits. Therefore it should come as no surprise that we’re facing a period of hiring difficulties and retention issues.
Unfortunately, according to a Gallup survey last year, employee engagement levels in the UK are some of the worst in Europe with fewer than one in 10 UK employees feeling enthusiastic about their job (although other research puts UK engagement rates a bit higher).
I’ve quoted the statistics that surround a disengaged workforce before but how about the following from People Metrics and Gallup as food for thought:
· A disengaged employee cost companies $3,400 to $10,000 annually.
· Highly engaged teams sell 20% more than teams with low engagement.
It is values and the behaviour and the results from them that play a pivotal role of providing a sense of community, purpose and doing something that matters. It’s your values that will help attract and retain the right kind of people. It’s your values that will also create a point of difference between you and your competitors, thereby creating a more loyal customer base. And it’s your values that help when it comes to difficult decision making or inspiring leadership.
If you want to develop and grow a successful business with an engaged workforce which is highly motivated, then you need to get clear on your values right from the start. They are central to your identity, and you need to articulate them, live and work by them, and embed them in all your processes and policies right from the get-go. Trying to add your values to your workplace environment at a later stage risks coming across as not being genuine and will make it harder to embed them in all that you do.
So what are your values and behaviours?
It’s easy to think that we know what these are, but actually, if you’re asked to sit down and list them, it’s often a much harder exercise than you expect. And if you asked your employees to list your company’s values, are you confident that they could?
Defining your values – the theory
Your company values should be well-defined and authentic. They are the core principles that not only shape your company's culture but also serve as a guiding force that influences decision-making, employee behaviour, and overall business prosperity. You almost certainly will have determined your company’s What and Why, but your company values are your How.
It should go without saying that there is absolutely no point in defining a value if it isn’t genuinely held and reflected in everything you do externally and internally.
Defining your values – the practical
Defining your values can take a little work. I use various methods which include employee surveys. These help you understand your existing culture, identify key strengths and areas for improvement, and gather perspectives on the company's values and behaviours.
Interestingly, research by Qualtrics has confirmed that turning feedback into action leads to high employee engagement. Employees are 17% more engaged if they can participate in a regular feedback programme.
I also facilitate engaging workshops with your team to enable discussions, brainstorming, and idea exploration, all aimed at defining a set of core values and behaviours that align with your company's vision. The result is a list of values that you and your employees feel to the bones.
Living your values
Of course, writing your values down in a nice list is not enough. Once the core values and behaviours are identified, you need what I call an activation plan. This plan outlines practical steps and strategies to embed these core values into daily operations, communications, performance management, and employee recognition programs.
CultureCore: Empowering Growth through Authentic Values and Behaviours
CultureCore is a programme designed specifically for business leaders who aspire to grow their companies and establish a robust foundation for long-term success. Whether you're a startup, a rapidly expanding organisation, or an established business undergoing a transformational phase, this package is tailored to meet your unique needs. As part of the work I do within this program I help you identify and embed your values and behaviours.
If you would like to find out more about how Culturehood can help you discover, design and embed your company through CultureCore - read more here