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How Values Can Transform Workplace Culture

Rachel Reed
11/3/21 9:00 AM

Values have long been a part of the corporate conversation, but moving into a new decade and a new era of work brings a new set of rules. Transparency brought on by global digitization, social media, and the increased visibility of multiple global social movements have put companies’ intentions out front for evaluation.

Only 23% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization's values to their work every day.

Values provide clarity. When values are continually reinforced and decisions are made on the basis of those values, people will continue to see a company as intended. Employees, prospective talent, business partners, and customers will see a company in alignment. When employees see leadership in alignment with strong core values, they are more likely to be secure, confident, and engaged. 

In fact, in one Gallup case study, a financial institution increased its net profit by 85% in a five-year period by undergoing a culture transformation process that started with clarifying its core values.

Strong values serve as a moral compass for the organization. When values are no longer relevant or seldom reinforced by the words, decisions, and actions of leadership, employees may struggle to define their place within the organization, creating a cultural downward spiral and a visible decline in employee engagement. 

Values, when well-defined and supported can serve as a roadmap for disruption. When faced with difficult decisions, values can help support and define the why of difficult decisions and strategies

Values can be translated into actionable behaviors that shape a strong company culture. 

Take Squarespace values, for example:

  • Be your own customer
  • Empower individuals
  • Design is not a luxury
  • Good work takes time
  • Optimize towards ideals
  • Simplify

These values can be applied to individuals and the organization as a whole. Each can also be translated into actionable, rewardable behaviors that reinforce organizational identity and simultaneously uplift and motivate employees. 

The best recognition programs tie organizational values to actions and behaviors tailored to individual employees and reward based on achievement, effort, attitude, and performance. 

A strong set of values strengthens organizational identity, boosts employee engagement, creates clarity and alignment, all of which are critical in developing cultural identity.  

 

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