Why organizational values ​​are at the heart of how your business works

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

The quit percentages have been up for almost two years set records. However, rather than leaving the workforce, economists say most workers who quit their jobs leave them for other opportunities. Of course, salary and benefits can help attract talent, but incentives alone are not enough to retain them.

People today to provide value through meaningful, purposeful work. In a 2020 McKinsey report, 82% of employees felt it was essential for their company to have a purpose. In 2022, the research firm found that 70% defined their sense of purpose through work. But as recently as December 2022, reported Gallup that only 40% of employees surveyed agreed with the statement, “My company’s mission or purpose makes me feel like my job matters.”

Employees today have higher expectations, and at the heart of creating and maintaining them are values ​​– those of the organization and the employees seeking employment there. When both parties work to ensure these values ​​align, it drives engagement and productivity, resulting in greater job satisfaction for employees and better outcomes for the company.

Related: Are You A Leader Who Is True To Your Values? Here’s how to align your leadership style with your values

Aligning values ​​creates meaning

The pandemic caused a change in personal priorities, raising purpose and values. a Gartner 2021 study on the changing workplace found that of more than 3,500 employees worldwide, 65% said the pandemic made them rethink the workplace in their lives; for 52%, it made them question the purpose of their daily contribution in the workplace. Half emerged after the pandemic with different expectations of their employers.

Making people feel the value of their work is more critical to employee retention than ever before. When values ​​are aligned, so are employees more likely to recommend their company as a great work environment and describe their work as a sense of personal fulfillment. This, of course, can come from meaningful work activities, such as volunteering. Still, many would feel more fulfilled simply by being given the opportunity to use more of their skills and creativity at work, especially for a company with similar values.

Before an interview, employees should think about their values, what drives them and why and how they want to make an impact. They should envision the kinds of projects or learning opportunities that excite them and explore how their strengths, skills and passions can meaningful contributions to the company. On the other hand, companies should make their values ​​clear from the start to attract the right candidates and use the interview to demonstrate their commitment to educating new recruits and accustoming them to their culture of lived values.

Related: Want Success? Define your company values

Develop, integrate and model

Effectively executed aligned core values ​​create a work culture of principles that employees believe in. In an organization where values ​​are a lived part of the culture, every employee in the office (or on a Zoom call) has a story to tell about how they live their company’s values ​​in their day-to-day work. Otherwise, leaders need to be more proactive in establishing their culture of lived values ​​to ensure they continue to give meaning to employees.

Once they have defined the organization’s values, the company’s leadership must integrate them into its strategic plan. They must then lead by example with consistent and honest examples of living those values ​​in and outside the workplace. They need to engage employees so they understand how their work meaningfully impacts the rest of their team or the company’s goals. Demonstrate specific ways team members can live these values ​​in their day-to-day work and implement ways to make values ​​a primary consideration in everything they do.

At Clearfield, many people keep our values ​​on the wall so that when performing a long list of tasks they can assess which most support the company’s strategic plan and values ​​to make independent decisions. The more we hear stories about how they integrate our values ​​into their work, the better it is for us as leaders to nurture the kind of culture that drives employee purpose and meaning. Leaders should continuously assess how often they hear their company’s values ​​in conversations with team members, and employees should speak up if they feel they are out of alignment.

Related: Why A Purpose Driven Business Is The Real Key To Success

Transparency as values ​​evolve

Values ​​should set clear expectations about how team members are expected to work together, and leaders should ensure that these values ​​are known, disseminated, and written down. When we started Clearfield, we first wrote our values ​​on a napkin while on a plane: Listen, Recognize, Understand, Collaborate, Deliver and Celebrate. We’ve told that story many times since then. We even hung it on the wall for all to see.

But as we grew from a company of 93 employees to a company with sales of more than a quarter of a billion, the ways we expected to work together changed. We’ve moved to remote and hybrid teams, and it’s changed again. Values ​​should stand the test of time and anchor a company in what matters, but as it grows those values ​​often need to evolve. In their latest iteration, our values ​​have remained the same, but with the addition of two new lenses to take into account the changing context of our work environment and critical stakeholders: how we impact our customers and other team members.

Leaders must communicate the “why” behind any changes or additions to company values, keep the floor open for feedback, and ensure ongoing engagement and alignment. Employees should speak up when they feel they are out of line. We model our evolving values ​​by providing space to listen to team members, receive their feedback, and reiterate our call to them to live our values ​​through weekly snapshot meetings. We set aside half an hour for everyone to sit face-to-face with their CEO, but those meetings can be as quick as five-minute check-ins depending on our needs. Recent recruits have expressed their amazement at the intimate bond we try to build with our team. But living our values ​​keeps everyone connected to the core of who we are as a company.

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