Promoting your company values internally is crucial to the employee experience. Sending in your adoring fan mail after you’ve read this blog post, on the other hand, is optional (sort of).
We recently showed you how to develop or sense-check your company values, and the hundreds of thousands of definitely real fan letters we received in response convinced us to revisit the topic. We didn’t even have to pay them for their — again, definitely real — admiration!
So here we are, ready to take you through the natural next steps — championing your values internally. No pressure, right? …Right?
We already know that 50% of CEOs and CFOs agree on culture’s influence on productivity, profitability, and growth. (But don’t just take our word for it — read more about the study in Forbes.)
Now, let’s take a closer look at how to make your values resonate with your people — something that’s incredibly important to your company culture and the employee experience you provide.
If you’re confident in your company’s core values, it’s important to bring them to life across the organization.
There’s no point asking your employees to get behind something that your leadership isn’t fully on board with. This can undermine managerial credibility and makes your core values feel like “just words” with little substance. Nobody wants to work at a company where the values wouldn’t feel out of place on a motivational cat poster.
Start by asking all of your leadership team and department heads about the core values and what they mean to them, specifically within the context of their department.
Plan a workshop promoting core values to your leaders. One example question might be “We value ____________ which means that our people ____________”.
Ask them to bring specific examples of how employees on their team have demonstrated this.
These workshops are great team-building exercises and a great way to bring your values to life in a way that allows your managers to look out for demonstrable examples within their own teams.
Repeat these workshops with upper management, department heads, and team leaders — anyone who manages a team of people.
It’s also important to visibly demonstrate the values within your leadership team. If one of your values is diversity, this should be reflected in your upper management. If it’s caring for your employees, you should hire department heads who put their employee welfare as a top priority. (And, you know, just remember to be a human and show compassion.)
It’s important to complete step one before you move on to this. It relies heavily on buy-in from your upper management, department heads, and team leaders and the ability to recognize your core values in action.
There will probably be someone on the team who has demonstrated a core value, or it might be an example where the whole team has come together to achieve something that perfectly captures the essence of a core value.
Let’s look at an example.
A core value might be “taking personal ownership” — a nice one as it encourages a culture of people who own what they do and managers who trust their team to do a great job.
You or one of your management team might have noted that a staff member had noticed an issue. It’s not technically part of their job description, but instead of firing it up the chain to their team leader, they’ve asked questions and found the other team members able to help so that they can tackle the problem together while keeping their line manager in the loop. They’ve found a solution of their own initiative, but they’ve also embodied another one of your core values — “teamwork”. This employee is a great example of someone bringing your core values to life.
Ask all your managers to run recognition programs, seeking these kinds of examples. They don’t need to be individuals. They could be a project or new process put into place to add to your corporate values. It might be a whole team of people who’ve demonstrated organizational values together.
The important next step is celebrating the people or projects that brought these values to life. This might be with some kind of reward, but it might be as simple as a shout-out to the whole company. Be clear about why you’re giving the shout-out and how the person or project has embodied one of your core values.
An employee engagement platform like Workvivo allows all members of the team to give shout-outs in an easy way that emulates a social media platform. A shout-out on a social intranet can encourage further interactions such as likes, shares, and comments.
The more interaction a shout-out gets, the more likely employees will do their own shout-outs. This should be encouraged! Inspire your whole organization to get involved in your recognition programs, spotting great examples of your core values in action and celebrating them as a team.
By now, your leaders understand your values, and your whole organization recognizes what they look like and how to use them.
The next step is to hire more people who represent your core values.
Ensure you mention your core values in your job descriptions. This may mean you need to rewrite them — so do! Your company culture will benefit so much from new people who naturally fit your company’s core values.
Imagine one of your core values is “ingenuity”. You’re looking for people who can demonstrate that they think outside of the box and aren’t afraid to step out of their role from time to time.
You might interview a fantastically efficient candidate, but they’re used to processes and procedures and don’t feel comfortable making decisions that aren’t signed off every step of the way. Even though they tick every other box on paper, you might find that they don’t enjoy working at a place where ingenuity is favored over procedures.
Flip this on its head, and one of your core values might be “to make considered decisions based on data every step of the way”. This candidate could just be the perfect fit for you.
Make sure you design your interview questions with this in mind. Don’t be afraid to bring up your values and ask your candidates how they have demonstrated them in the past.
Openness and transparency are great attributes to have in the hiring process. There’s little point in hiring people who don’t align with your core values as they’re less likely to enjoy the culture and might leave sooner.
Most onboarding includes company values, but they can seem meaningless without some explanation.
Just as you did with your management workshops, give new staff demonstrable examples so that employees understand exactly what your core values look like in practice.
Make your examples role-specific. It’s best to make it as easy as possible for your new team to picture how they can embody your core values in the workplace.
This can go for new staff, but you might also wish to repeat this training with employees that have been with you for some time.
This will help loyal employees feel included. It would be a shame to lose great employees that have been with you for a long time because they feel left behind and out of touch with the organizational culture.
We’re not suggesting that you change all of your performance indicators to those related to company core values; there are other important goals within your business that you can’t ignore.
However, you could try dedicating one performance indicator or KPI to a goal around one of your core values. For example, if one of your values is “adaptiveness”, and you have an employee who tends to stick in their lane, you could set them the task to learn a new skill and then use it in their day-to-day role.
This is not only great for the business but also a fantastic progression for the employee.
All KPIs or performance indicators should be tangible examples. There is no point saying “show your adaptiveness” unless you think it’s already something your employee does, and you know they’ll nail it.
If your team member is comfortable with it, share the great examples of core values in action with the wider team.
A social intranet like Workvivo allows employers to give shout-outs across the entire organization and other employees to comment, like, and share.
Typically, company communications can include:
Your company’s core values should ring through all of your internal communications. They may not be explicit, but they should be identifiable.
Begin the process of auditing your internal communications messaging. Is it clear and consistent, and does it reflect at least one of your company’s values?
Involve your creative team and create a bank of messaging that can be used across all your internal communications that reflect your core company values. Having pre-approved messaging is a great opportunity to ensure all your internal comms tell the same story and avoid confusion around your stated corporate values.
By this stage, almost everyone in your organization should have a relatively clear idea of your aspirational values and the company’s mission.
You should want these values to become entrenched within your company culture, so the next step is to bring them to life in your day-to-day through an employee engagement strategy.
Incentivize employees to get involved in emphasizing organizational values. This could be through a set of suggested activities or their own ideas.
For example, if you have regular internal podcasts, an employee might want to run a series of interviews with employees who bring organizational values to life.
You may wish to run contests asking for stories demonstrating your cultural values.
As well as aiming for employee engagement initiatives, ensure core values are represented in your policies and procedures. If a new procedure is being developed, question whether this contributes to your values.
Perhaps most important is to encourage ownership within your employees. Allow employees to interpret your value statements in a way that resonates with them. Strong core values should be robust enough to be interpreted in several ways.
In every organization, there will be cynical and dispirited employees. Rather than disregarding their opinions, you should aim to include them as much as possible. You might learn something from them.
Run pulse surveys about your core values across your organization. Encourage feedback from all employees, including those who wouldn’t usually contribute.
Ensure your pulse surveys are accessible to everyone and distributed in a way that will reach the most employees.
Workvivo allows organizations to run pulse surveys and publish them on their employee engagement platform. Engaging the team through a platform like Workvivo typically achieves much higher engagement rates — up to 96% with Workvivo.
Ask employees for ideas and listen to the thoughts of all employees, whether they’re naturally enthusiastic about your values or not.
Once you’ve gathered the data, make sure you’re putting some of the ideas you’ve heard into action, and let the team know. This will help employees feel valued.
Many organizations create core values and then do very little with them. Having your core values reflected within your team is beneficial to your company culture and employee engagement.
So, don’t be afraid to speak openly and honestly about your values, and feel free to encourage an open discussion around them.
If someone finds one of them disingenuous, seek to discover why. It might not be that the value is wrong, but that the employee has encountered something in their working day that they shouldn’t have, whether that be a policy, a procedure, or even the actions of a colleague.
Recognize your values across the organization in a frank and transparent way and encourage the leadership team to incorporate them into their daily language.
Often, organizational behaviors begin from the top down. If employees hear your core values being spoken about frankly by their team leader or department head, they understand that it’s safe and even encouraged to also speak openly about them in their development sessions.
Ensure you are speaking about your core values and including them within your employee engagement strategy.
An employee engagement platform is an easy way to reach employees at all points in the organization and encourage conversations.
For example, using Workvivo, you can attach any post to a company value, so it remains top of mind and becomes ingrained in your digital culture — much more effective than simply painting a list onto a boardroom wall.
Want to hear more about how you can use Workvivo to promote core values internally? Book your Workvivo demo today.