According to recent research by For Momentum, 41% of workers said a company's ethics and values are important factors in employee engagement. In order to attract and retain top talent, every business needs clear, effective values that resonate.
But how do you create meaningful core values that resonate with your team? And how can you ensure that your people stay committed to core values over time?
In a recent webinar with ITA Group and Georgia’s Own, we discussed how company core values can improve employee experience and inspire team members to be their best selves. This webinar covered strategies for implementing company core values, how HR leaders can bring core values to life, and more. This article covers some of our biggest takeaways from the discussion.
What are company core values?
Core values play a vital role in company culture. They set expectations for how employees will work together and what they can expect from their leaders, as well as build momentum around shared goals.
But what exactly are company core values? In short, company core values (or corporate values) are the guiding principles that dictate how you do business and treat others. They inform your actions and influence decision-making, shaping your company culture at every level of operation from CEO to customer service rep to new hire.
Your values belong at the very center of your organizational culture. They’re often described as the “pulse” or the "backbone” of your company’s culture. As Strategy Advisor at ITA Group Tanya Fish put it, “Core values can be described simply as ‘the way things are done around here’."
How do corporate values help to attract and retain the right employees?
When new applicants come into contact with your business or meet members of your team at recruitment fairs, they'll begin forming impressions about who you are based on that interaction. For example: if passion is one of your key core values, then job candidates should be able to sense this passion when they meet people from your team at recruitment events.
Core values should resonate throughout an organization (and not just on paper) but also attract likeminded candidates who share those same beliefs or qualities (for example those who value honesty or teamwork). Ideally, core values should be integrated into the hiring process to determine the cultural fit of new hires. In addition, your leadership team should be encouraged to use your core values for telling your organization’s story.
How can core values improve employee engagement?
In the workplace, there are a number of things that can impact employee engagement. Employee benefits and perks are a step in the right direction, but it's even more important to highlight what makes employees feel engaged with their work.
Jessie George, Director of Human Resources at Georgia’s Own, believes that strong values have a clear impact on engagement. In the webinar, she said, “If employees are aligned with the values of your organization, then they’re more likely to be engaged. Company core values act as a guidepost for everyday actions within the organization, which makes it much easier for them to be engaged,” she said.
When employees are engaged, they feel more invested in their work. This has far-reaching effects, including higher satisfaction and greater retention rates.
Are you a manager or team leader that needs help starting discussions around core values with your team? This free huddle guide is perfect for you. Huddles are a fun and engaging way to bring employees together to discuss areas of improvements.
Download our Huddle Guide PDF by filling out the form below. You'll get a printable huddle guide resource to assist in discussions around the organization’s mission, vision, and values with your teams.
Downloadable Huddle Guide
How can organizations bring their company core values to life?
Your organization’s values play a vital role in company culture. They set expectations for how employees will work together and what they can expect from their leader, as well as build momentum around shared goals.
Unfortunately, many companies struggle to define core values that reflect their team’s culture. Or, they forget to build an effective strategy to integrate corporate values into everyday work. This means that employees are left without the guidance they need to be engaged in their company’s core values.
During the webinar, we discussed 3 ways that companies can drive core values.
1. Core Values Need to Be Authentic
Company core values and mission statements must be carefully crafted to ensure that they really speak to the employee's perspective. “If your core values aren’t authentic and in the voice of your employees, it can really create some frustration and tension in your culture,” said Tanya Fish, Strategy Advisor at ITA Group. “Company core values are the core of your culture, the core of who you are, and when you get it right, it really does boost your culture and positively influence your employees.”
Company core values shouldn’t just be words on a wall or on your company website. They need to be tied into your employees daily work experiences, from onboarding new employees to fostering company culture.
2. Your Leadership Team Must Vocally Support and Model Its Values
As a leader, how can you begin to bring those values to life? By living your values yourself. This is probably the most difficult and important step, but it’s something that every leader in an organization has the capacity to do.
When people see their leadership team living and breathing the company’s core values, they’re much more likely to do so themselves. Your actions as a leader speak far louder than any words you say or policies you try to implement.
The best way for anyone in your organization to show that they value something is by modeling its behaviors and sharing stories about how practicing them has impacted their work lives. When leaders value the corporate culture, everyone else does too.
One way to encourage senior managers to live your core values is a recognition platform. Employee experience platforms like Cooleaf reward employees for living your values while boosting company culture.
See if Cooleaf is the right fit for your team
3. Create Engagement Initiatives That Promote Your Values
How often do your people share why their company's core values are important to them? By creating a space for employees to share their perspective on your company’s mission and culture, you can help them feel more connected to your core values.
Engagement initiatives can give employees a chance to bond with each other in ways that might have been absent before. For remote work especially, these initiatives can be especially effective to bring people together. This could be as simple as a virtual coffee chat where everyone shares how they plan on incorporating the company's core values into their work lives and lives outside of work. If you're ready to inspire your team, check out our guide: 4 Team-Building Activities to Drive Core Values.
As we wrap up, it’s important to reiterate that developing and communicating your core values isn't just useful for attracting top talent — though it certainly helps with that! Core values also make for better relationships with customers and vendors, stronger communities, and more effective decision-making at every level of your organization.