In the 21st-century, workplaces often emphasize things like company culture, values, ethics, and beliefs. Concepts like maintaining a growth mindset, transparency, and integrity usually take center stage as businesses attempt to shrug off the cloaked, "backroom dealing" image of past corporations.
In the modern workplace, an organization's values are a critical piece of a business's ultimate success or failure — particularly when hiring and retaining talent.
Why company values are important
Company values are more than just a motivational poster or a slogan. They're an integral part of how a business operates. The purpose of core company values can typically be broken down into three categories:
- They can provide guidance for company leadership as they make decisions.
- They can communicate an organization's focus and goals to past, present, and potential clients and customers.
- They can help attract top talent to an organization due to similarly held beliefs.
While all three are essential to success, it's the last one of the three that is particularly important to a company's long-term health.
How values attract top employees
If you want an organization to survive over time, you must build it on quality talent with minimal turnover. Core values can help with this in multiple ways.
For instance, on the one hand, core values can, in and of themselves, be a lure that attracts a potential employee. Much like an excellent perk or benefit, a core value, such as work-life balance or empowerment, can attract an employee who may be looking for an employer that will be naturally inclined to treat them with respect.
Another example could be a core value like diversity recruiting. Knowing that diversity is knit into an employer's core values is more reassuring than a brief equal opportunity employer statement or an empty claim on a job advertisement.
On the other hand, core values can also be integral to employees' long-term success once they've been hired and are actively participating in an organization's success.
For example, values like communication can have many positive day-to-day effects on how a company operates. An emphasis on communication can ensure that collaboration occurs, feedback is genuinely heard, and transparency is maintained.
The smooth, respectful, productive operation of a company — especially when said operations are based on integral core values — can go a long way in encouraging employees to remain seriously committed to their employer.
A robust 54% of employees have reported that they remained at a position longer than was in their best interest. Why did they do so? Simply because they felt they were part of a community and had developed a sense of belonging. This sense of being part of something bigger than yourself is typically rooted in the core values and beliefs that a company adopts.
Good core values in action
There are many examples of even larger businesses that have embraced core values as a cornerstone of their success, such as:
- Coca-Cola: The company prioritizes values like leadership, quality, and diversity, all of which help maintain its global presence and status.
- American Express: The company is committed to values like integrity, good citizenship, and quality, all of which are important in finance.
- Google: The company prioritizes values such as putting the customer (or user) first, providing information, and excellence, again, all of which are essential for an international tech company's long-term success.
While these are good examples of larger organizations, the success associated with core values continues to impress, even on a smaller level. For example, investing conglomerate Charles Shwab has made a fantastic name for itself by focusing intently on empowering and facilitating customers to succeed.
Regardless of the specifics, core values can often make or break a company's success in every industry and scenario.
How to utilize your company's values
It's great to read about broad-sweeping statements like the fact that Coca-Cola and American Express prioritize quality or over half of employees stay at companies longer when they believe in similar values. But how can you apply that to your specific organization?
There are many ways that you can do so, such as the following:
Use your values as a beacon
Before you post a job advert or set up any interviews, start by clearly identifying your company's values. As you clarify what factors your company prizes above all others, begin to weave them into your mission statement, your vision, and your company's behavior and activities.
This "walk the walk" behavior is essential if you're going to use core values to attract and retain quality employees in the future.
Use your values in recruiting
As you engage in active recruitment, look for the best ways to present your values to the kind of recruits you're looking for. If, for instance, you want to hire more millennials, you may want to emphasize values like flexibility, trust, and work-life balance in your job descriptions.
If, on the other hand, you're looking to hire younger members from Generation Z, you may want to focus more on values like diversity and continual learning. The way you present your values can dictate who will see them and what kind of talent you'll attract.
Use your values with your staff
Finally, as you vet and hire quality candidates, you must take steps to perpetually reflect your values in the workplace that they'll inhabit, as well.
This can be done through company initiatives and encouraging buy-in from leadership. It can also be done by establishing crystal clear workplace policies that emphasize how your values impact workplace safety, privacy, and health.
Using company values (and talent) to build a better business
Strong company values are the building blocks of a healthy business. They help guide company policy and make important decisions. They also clearly communicate a business's goals and objectives with consumers.
Most importantly, quality, well-established company values can attract and retain top talent for your business. As you bring in and keep high-quality employees within your staff, your company will be able to maintain a firm foundation of talent that can help your organization survive and thrive, no matter what the future may have in store.
If you'd like to learn more about Jori Hamilton, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.