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  • Caroline Maher

The Value of Workplace Values

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

Imagine your company brings on a new recruit.

The interview was promising, he has a notable work history and seems ambitious to build his expert status in the industry. Your team is thrilled to bring him on board and welcome him into your tight-knit, team-oriented culture.

The last several weeks, however, he has failed to take part in your group’s morning discussions and has made a less than noticeable contribution to collaborative projects. He’s adamant about leaving on time and isn’t at all interested in pitching in to achieve important deadlines. Thus the question soon begins to arise: did your company make a mistake in hiring him?

While this new recruit may be considered a “win” based on his impressive resume and his over-eager desire to climb the corporate ladder, he fails to hit the mark when it comes to exemplifying your company’s day-to-day core values.

Behind every successful, well-established company is an internal process based on a defined set of principles. These principles are a guide by which certain actions are tolerated, or unfortunately for the recruit mentioned above, not tolerated.

Workplace values provide the foundation for how your employees interact with one another, achieve success, and ultimately, what keeps your business driving forward.

Your company’s core values also define your team’s response to challenges, difficulties, acceptable behaviors, and unacceptable behaviors. Think of your company’s values as a lens, through which decisions are made, policies are created, and actions are implemented.

To really understand the importance of workplace values, it’s perhaps more important to understand the consequences of not having these grounding set of principles in place. Let’s say that the recruit with the impressive resume wasn’t discharged. Let’s say that this company’s leaders didn’t recognize his unaligned views as problematic. As you can probably guess, the outcome wouldn’t be desirable. In fact, the entire organization itself could gradually fall apart. The only thing defining this type of company now is failure.

So it’s pretty evident the vitalness of workplace values, but how exactly are they defined?

Choosing workplace values can take several approaches, and there’s no magic formula for how these principles are spelled out. But the organizations that have proven to be the most effective and even the ones that have successfully bounced back from near-failure all have one thing in common: commitment to following a set of defined values.

Too often companies go to great lengths to mount their values on a plaque in the reception and too often, that’s exactly where they stay. They become more of an aesthetic or decoration than they do a guide by which a company operates.

To be committed to adhering to workplace values means understanding your company’s current culture, or lack thereof, and assessing your company’s future plans and goals. It means incorporating unwavering policies, actions, and strategies that reflect these goals. It means giving your defined values a purpose. It means selectively hiring individuals who will positively contribute to your company’s culture.

While workplace values are uniquely defined by each organization, it is important nonetheless to consider their impact, to respect them, and to be committed to following them. To recognize them as being far more than a decorative emblem in the reception.

After all, a company is only as good as its people.

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