How to promote core values in the workplace
When embarking on improving the culture of your business, one of the first places to start is with defining your core values. However, your work doesn’t end there.
To successfully promote these values throughout your organisation, it’s vital that you integrate them into every one of your employee-related processes, from how and who you hire, what performance management systems you put in place, through to the criteria for promotions and rewards, and even dismissal policies. Taking the time to consider how your core values are reflected in the day to day running of your business will allow employees to be aware of what behaviours management are keen to see and why it’s important to the overall success of your organisation.
To encourage the right habits within your business, core values need to be more than just words. If you are unable to translate your values into meaningful actions and examples, it can actually lead to a feeling of inauthenticity, which will be worse for your employee engagement than not having them at all.
Make your values visual
Once your core values have been defined, the next step for many is to publish and promote them on the company website and employee handbook. However, although this is helpful for prospective customers and new employees to find out more about you, it doesn’t do much to keep these values at the forefront of your existing employees’ minds.
By making core values a prominent feature in the workplace, for instance, placing them in high traffic areas such as your reception, break rooms and conference rooms, helps to keep your values and expectations top of mind.
Another way to bring your values to life is through a “culture deck”. One of the most well-known examples of this is Netflix’s slideshow, which walks through their company values and why they are important. Not only does this medium make it easier for the viewer to digest, it’s also very shareable. Being able to refer back to these values on a daily basis will be an integral part of your employee engagement strategy moving forward.
Hire (...or not!) based on your values
While experience and knowledge can be picked up on the job, values are not so easily transferable, and employing someone with the wrong fit can do more harm than good. Developing a list of questions that allow you to assess a candidate’s cultural fit with your business can help to avoid hiring anyone who may not hold the same core beliefs.
Sharing your values with the outside world can also be great for attracting new talent. If you’re able to demonstrate how your organisation looks after its staff and that it is clear what is expected of them, the right candidates will be drawn to your business and will want to stay for longer.
However, if the worst were to happen, and you did find yourself with an employee who doesn’t fit your core values, make sure to address this promptly. If employees are clear on the behaviours that are expected of them and aren’t performing, have measures in place to set clear KPIs and boundaries that allow them to see where they are falling short, and the consequences if things do not improve.
Retaining someone whose views or actions clash with your company’s values will ultimately send a very bad message to the rest of your people. For example, letting standards slip or inappropriate behaviours slide because it’s your top salesperson, will not sit well amongst the rest of your team.
To avoid bad habits becoming the norm, make your values part of regular performance reviews, such as during one to ones, as well as annual reviews. This will communicate the importance of your values to every member of your organisation and show that you are keeping track of their ability to display these.
To help your core values stick, time will need to be put aside to train your staff on what they mean and how they translate into expected behaviours. If you’re rolling out newly defined core values to an existing team, look to incorporate training into personal development sessions. This can help them relate the values to their current work performance and act as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement in line with the new values.
For example, if one of your core values is about working well as a team, planning team building exercises is a great way to promote collaboration. These exercises can reflect other core values too, such as diversity, tolerance and fair business practices.
Work (and play) by values
Find ways to model your company values by aligning them with your company culture activities. A great example of this is from VMware who give employees 40 hours of paid leave each year to allow them to volunteer. Not only does this give colleagues the opportunity to volunteer together, but it also has its own charitable foundation based on service learning, social investments, matching donations and milestone awards.
These types of initiatives are best led by example; management needs to actively take part and show employees how it’s done and empower their people to do the same.
Consistently communicate values
Company leaders should be communicating their core values at every opportunity. By sharing anecdotes and regularly praising those who live by these values in every part of the business, everyone will have a clear understanding of the behaviours that will be rewarded. Just as importantly, if employees display any conflicting behaviours, these should be dealt with and managed accordingly.
The encouragement of your core values should be led by everyone within your organisation. Encouraging employees to openly question decisions or actions that feel misaligned with the company values, allows for a more authentic approach to course correction and reinforces the intent behind the company culture.
Recognise and reward values
Publically rewarding the employees who demonstrate your company values in their work will go far beyond delighting that individual alone; your appreciation will act as an example to other team members and encourage them to exhibit similar behaviours.
Depending on the situation, rewards may be anything from a simple thank you to a gift card or experience. These individuals should not only be selected by the management team. By encouraging peer recognition too, you’ll be able to ensure positive behaviour doesn’t go unnoticed, and it’ll have the bonus effect of encouraging staff to live by the values as they’re looking out for them in others. Whatever way you decide to show your appreciation and reward your team, be sure to do so regularly and in a timely manner to provide the most impact and positive reinforcement.