How To: Apply Your Core Values in Everyday Work Life

Jamie Nichol July 14, 2016 Culture, Employee Engagement

We welcome guest author Jamie Nichol, from CultureIQ, to explain the benefits of using company values to help in shaping all aspects of company culture.

There’s a big difference between having company values and doing something meaningful with them.

Unfortunately, core values are an easy target for eye rolls and mockery, because aside from being nice words on a website or employee handbook, employees often don’t know what to do with them… which defeats the purpose of values in the first place.

At CultureIQ, we are strong advocates of living by your company mission and core values. In fact, mission and value alignment is a quality that is common to high-performance organizations, and it is one of the components we assess when measuring organizational culture. In a company with value alignment, individuals understand, believe in, and know how to apply the values to their work.

That last part is arguably the hardest part, so here are some pointers to help your company really live by its core values:

Values-based decision making

The simplest way to look at core values is to understand them as your company’s guiding tenets. This means that they should serve as a compass when making decisions about everything from hiring new employees to determining product roadmaps.

Train managers on using these values as a decision-making tool, especially in functions that are faced with taxing decisions, such as sales, customer service, and human resources. Decision fatigue is real, so you’ll find that employees actually take comfort in this approach, because by grounding decisions in core values, they will feel confident committing to them and explaining them to any stakeholder in the company.

When in doubt, just ask yourself: WWOVD? What would our values do?

Values-based perks

At CultureIQ, we always say that perks shouldn’t serve as a substitute for culture, but they certainly can enhance your culture! Rooting the company’s perks in your core values is the best way to ensure they really are adding value to your company culture.

For example, the software company Asana has the value “embrace mindfulness and equanimity,” so they provide the perk of daily on-site yoga, and their offering of free executive coaching aligns with their value of “focus on your mission.”




Values-based recognition

Recognizing employees for value-aligned behavior not only promotes positive behaviors, but it also provides a tangible example to others for how to apply the values to their everyday work.

Values-based recognition can be as simple as setting up a Slack channel for peer shoutouts, or it can form the basis of your internal promotion strategy. For example, members of the sales team at The Muse qualify for promotion based on their numbers, but they actually get promoted by aligning with the company’s values.

The great news is that values-based recognition doesn’t just sound nice, it can actually be more effective. According to a study by the Society of Human Resource Management, values-based recognition programs had a more positive impact on employee engagement, employee happiness, and relationships when compared to non-values-based recognition programs. Who can argue with that?

What is your company doing to live by your values? Share your ideas with us on Twitter @CultureIQ!