5 Ways to Create A Value-Driven Company Culture
A full 70% of U.S. workers say they are not engaged at work. This lack of engagement can be driven by a number of things, but one of the top reasons is that they don’t connect with the company’s core values. This is particularly true for Millennials, who place a premium on working at a value-driven workplace. Creating a value-driven company culture can increase retention, boost worker engagement, and raise overall productivity.
1. Transform employees’ values into corporate values
Too often, conversations about values and company culture occur in a top-down fashion. Managers and C-suite executives decide that they need to improve company culture, so they begin a series of initiatives to address it. Unfortunately, this removes employees from the equation — yet their minds are the ones management is ostensibly trying to change!
The most authentic shifts in company culture come from a bottom-up approach. Run focus groups or survey your employees about the things they value about your organization. Then, make those employee-driven values the focus of your culture campaign. You might be surprised at the aspects of your organization that your employees feel most passionate about. Make those the cornerstone of your culture initiative, and your employee engagement will soar.
2. Celebrate your mission and values
It’s tough to create a value-driven company culture if your employees don’t even know what your company’s values are. An astonishing 60% of workers do not know their company’s mission statement. Among those who do know their company’s values, only 23% of U.S. employees agree that their organizations’ values apply to their everyday work.
To improve engagement with your company’s mission and values, take time to celebrate the things that make your company and your values unique. Announce a “mission week” or similar initiative in which employees can learn more about the company and what it stands for. This can be helpful to newer employees as well as more established workers who have fallen out of touch with the company’s messaging.
Depending on your industry, activities might include guest lectures, team-building exercises, or fun competitions. Anything that connects with your corporate mission and gets employees involved in a positive way helps to create a more value-driven company culture, which can provide lasting effects even after the activities are over.
3. Put your money (and time) where your mouth is
One of the primary goals of any successful business is to generate profit. Hopefully, though, there is a bigger “why” behind what you do. Whether you manufacture toothpaste or create data-driven solutions for healthcare organizations, you need to find the guiding reason for doing the work you do. Then, ask yourself whether your actions — both individual and on a company-wide level — match these values. Chances are, there is some room for improvement.
Workers feel more engaged with an organization when they see the genuine good it does for the wider community. Think about ways that you can use your values to drive philanthropic work. That might include monetary donations to good causes within your broader industry. Or, it might involve initiatives to get your employees (including upper management!) more engaged with the community.
Create a corporate team to run a charity 5k, volunteer at an industry event, or staff a food pantry for an afternoon. Choose these opportunities thoughtfully and strategically. The more closely you can tie initiatives back to your company’s larger purpose, the more effective these efforts will move your company culture forward.
4. Create more consistent messaging
Take care when crafting your internal and external messaging to ensure it reflects your organization’s values. For example, let’s say you have identified “honesty” as a core value. Your internal messaging might include town-hall meetings where employees can share concerns, memos highlighting the thought process behind recent decisions, or greater transparency in the merit review process. You can also use your company website and social media pages to share honest employee reviews or ways you are responding to critical feedback.
Another way to weave your values into workplace life is to create a campaign to “catch” people living up to your company’s values. Highlight them on your website or in your company newsletter, and provide a small prize or incentive. This reminds employees about the day-to-day ways they can live out your values.
5. Use your values to help guide day-to-day decisions
While larger, coordinated company efforts to live and celebrate your company’s values are important to shoot for, you can also instill company values on a more steady and low-key way too by tying values to your employees’ individual goals and using them as a guide for the decisions that you make across the organization on a regular basis.
For example, when you’re evaluating whether a job candidate is a good fit, use your company’s values to help guide the conversation: is the candidate likely to live up to X value if hired? does the candidate show signs of X value on their own, without us suggesting it? will the candidate believe in and thrive in a culture like ours that cares about X Y Z values?
Another example is when you’re putting together a marketing campaign and the creative concept / messaging to go along with it – you naturally would already assess whether the campaign is “on-brand”, so in addition to that, you can also assess whether it is “on-value”.
Incorporating your company’s values into these smaller day-to-day decisions helps keep them top-of-mind organically throughout your organization and more likely to “stick”.