Workplace values are the guiding principles that are most integral to the way a company works. These deeply held principles enable companies to choose between the right and wrong ways of working, and they help employees make important decisions and career choices. These values are the foundation of a company’s culture, which shapes the workday experience of each employee. It determines whether employees enjoy their jobs, are engaged with their company, and want to remain a part of it.
Put simply, a company’s values, and the culture they create, can spell the difference between success and failure. In fact, according to research by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. The same survey also found a strong correlation between employees who claim to feel happy and valued at work and those who say their company has a strong culture.
The way people behave is deeply rooted in their values. They act as a guide on how to interact with others, so whether they’ve been in the business 10 minutes or 10 years, they feel comfortable because they know what’s expected of them. When employees share their company’s values, they make more informed decisions. Shared values also unify the company as a whole.
It’s a fine thing when employees are able to form strong bonds with their enterprise as well as with their colleagues. Sharing the same kind of beliefs and values as the people around them not only helps people to bond when times are good; it also allows them to create a “social safety net” they can depend on in times of uncertainty, stress or change.
The benefits of a strong corporate culture
Employee retention: A strong company culture is one of the best ways to attract and retain top talent. People naturally want to work for companies with a positive culture and will be willing to make their workplace a home, rather than just a stepping-stone to another job.
Employee – and customer – engagement: A positive culture with shared values fosters loyalty. When employees feel they’re being treated right, they’re far more likely to enjoy coming to work every day. And when customers are happy with a company’s values and its way of dealing with them, they’ll keep coming back.
Collaboration: Employees are much more likely to come together as a team at companies with a strong culture. A positive culture facilitates social interaction, teamwork and open communication. When collaboration is encouraged, it can result in better products, services, and innovation.
Improved performance: Strong company cultures have been linked to higher rates of productivity, as employees tend to be more motivated and dedicated to employers who invest in their well-being and actively seek to boost their morale. Companies which place a high value on wellness and a good work-life balance also reap the benefits of reduced workplace stress – and lower absenteeism.
What leading CEOs say about culture and values
“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” – Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox
“The way I think about culture is that modern humans have radically changed the way that they work and the way that they live. Companies need to change the way they manage and lead to match the way that modern humans actually work and live. We’re trying to re-craft culture in a way that really matches that. I think that 99% of companies are kind of stuck in the ’90s when it comes to their culture. – Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot
“There is a high cost associated with building a culture: team retreats, gym memberships, personal and professional development classes. All this is to facilitate the personal evolution of each person who contributes to the company. And, what are our results? In three years, not one employee has voluntarily left, which is a phenomenon that we believe can be replicated at any organization.” – David Hassell, Founder & CEO of 15Five
“If you are lucky enough to be someone’s employer, then you have a moral obligation to make sure people do look forward to coming to work in the morning.” – John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods Market
Values impact one third of every employee’s life
People spend more than a third of their lives at work. As a result, their managers and colleagues represent an extremely important social group – possibly the most important one outside of family. Sharing values with that group stimulates the brain’s reward response. And one of the most important ways in which colleagues can agree is through sharing workplace values.
The importance of corporate values and the culture they engender cannot be overstated. Today’s most successful companies know that to attract and retain both employees and clients, they must define and instill values that make their organizations not merely good, but great.