The importance of core value alignment in an employee’s decision to choose or stay on with an organisation has only grown over the decades. In fact, a 2022 study by Qualitrics found that 56% of workers are unwilling to even consider employment in organisations with values that don’t align with their own.
Employees want to work for companies that not only offer competitive salaries and benefits but also operate with integrity and a sense of social responsibility. By aligning with a company’s values, they feel more engaged and fulfilled which results in increased job satisfaction and greater loyalty. As a result, companies that prioritise values and ethics are more likely to attract and retain top talent in today’s competitive job market.
What are core values?
An organisation’s core values are defined as the fundamental beliefs and principles which govern its culture, operations and initiatives. They help shape the behaviour of employees, guide their decision-making, and set expectations for how they interact with one another and stakeholders. By establishing a clear and meaningful set of core values, an organisation can create a positive and productive work environment, where all individuals work towards a shared vision and common goals.
The exact makeup of every organisation’s set of core values will differ based on its mission, stakeholders and purpose. However, there are some common inclusions that many organisations take on, such as:
- Integrity: The organization operates with honesty, transparency, and ethical behaviour, upholding high moral principles.
- Respect: The organization treats all stakeholders, including customers, employees, and partners, with dignity, fairness, and respect, valuing the diversity of perspectives.
- Accountability: The organization takes responsibility for its actions and decisions, holding itself accountable to its stakeholders and committing to continuous improvement.
- Collaboration: The organization values teamwork, open communication, and collaboration to achieve its goals, encouraging cooperation among employees and departments.
- Innovation: The organization fosters a culture of creativity, experimentation, and innovation to drive growth and progress, seeking new and effective solutions to challenges.
- Customer focus: The organization prioritizes the needs and satisfaction of its customers, recognizing their importance to the success of the business.
- Social responsibility: The organization acknowledges its role in society and strives to have a positive impact on the environment, community, and society as a whole, demonstrating a commitment to ethical and sustainable practices
Advantages of defining your organisation’s core values
Defining an organisation’s core values is a crucial process that has a significant impact on the workplace, influencing it in ways that may not be immediately apparent. Some of the advantages of establishing core values include:
1. Provides clarity and direction: Core values provide a clear direction for decision-making, behaviour, and strategy. This clarity helps employees align with the organization’s vision and work towards a common goal.
2. Shapes organizational culture: The culture of an organization is defined and shaped by its core values, which foster a sense of belonging and shared purpose among employees. When employees share a common set of values, it creates a positive work environment, increases employee engagement, and leads to higher retention rates.
3. Guides decision-making: Core values provide a shared decision-making framework based on ethical and moral principles. This can help employees make decisions that are in line with the organization’s values and contribute to its success.
4. Attracts talent and customers: Organisations that clearly define their core values are more likely to attract top talent and clients who share the same values and beliefs. This can enhance the organisation’s reputation and create a competitive advantage.
5. Demonstrates social responsibility: Certain core values can emphasize an organisation’s commitment to social responsibility, showing that it cares about its impact on society and the environment.
7 core value exercises
Here are some core value exercises that a company can use to define their ethics culture:
1. Identify key stakeholders:
Start by identifying the key stakeholders in your organization, such as employees, customers, shareholders, and suppliers. This will help you understand their needs and expectations.
2. Conduct a values assessment:
This exercise involves conducting surveys to gather feedback from employees and stakeholders about what they believe the company’s core values should be. This can help identify common themes and values that are important to the organization and can be done through surveys, focus groups, or interviews.
3. Define your core values:
Based on the results of the values assessment, define your core values. This exercise involves defining and articulating the company’s core values in a clear and concise manner. Employees can be asked to work together to define each value and come up with examples of how those values can be applied in the workplace.
4. Develop a code of conduct:
Once you have defined your core values, develop a code of conduct that outlines the behaviours and actions that are expected of employees and stakeholders. The code of conduct should be comprehensive, covering a range of topics such as workplace safety, communication and conflict of interest. It should also specify consequences for violations which helps ensure that employees and stakeholders are held accountable for their actions.
5. Communicate your values:
Communicate your values and code of conduct to all stakeholders in your organization. This can be done through training programs, company meetings, and other communication channels.
6. Reward ethical behaviour:
Reward employees who exhibit ethical behaviour and hold those who violate your values accountable. This can be done through recognition programs, performance evaluations, or even bonuses and promotions.
7. Review and refine:
Periodically review and refine your core values and code of conduct to ensure they remain relevant and effective in guiding your organization’s behaviour and decision-making.
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To conclude, the core values of an organisation play a vital role in shaping its culture and defining its identity. Establishing and articulating core values allows workplaces to create shared purpose, strengthen employee culture and reinforce ethical behaviour and responsible decision-making. Ultimately, by developing and promoting a strong set of core values, companies can create a more engaged and motivated workforce, attract better talent, build a positive reputation, and achieve long-term success.