You know the drill. You meet someone and spend all sorts of time and mental energy trying to figure out how you know each other.
Where did you go to high school?
Did you study at University of Illinois?
Were you a part of the marathon training group?
Are you a member at the YMCA?
That eureka moment when you figure out what bonds you to this stranger: mystery solved! Why do we do this? When you discover a commonality, it gives you a sense of belonging. Whether recognized as Maslow’s “need to belong” or Dr. Robert Cialdini’s seventh principle of influence “unity,” humans like to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. It can also be a powerful and viable strategy for business leaders to leverage.
No one aspires to create a company where employees simply “clock in and clock out.” You want engaged employees who feel like they’re a part of a common mission. Have you fostered a shared identity in your workplace culture? How do you achieve this? While a founders’ vision and values are important, they shouldn’t be the only drivers. Co-creation builds unity so start by asking questions and listening.
What do your employees value in the workplace?
By inviting participation in the value creation process, every opinion matters and can have an impact on the company’s future. Companies can either poll or meet in person, then distill the core beliefs into three to seven value statements. Consider any barriers in work environments, recurring demands, technology or equipment that will hinder progress and cause frustration. Addressing them in advance makes employees feel heard and signals leaderships’ dedication to positive change.
The next critical step is making sure you reinforce the significance of the value statements with action. They must be a part of daily conversations, otherwise promoted statements hung on the wall will feel like an empty exercise. Used as a true North Star, they have the power to inspire everyone and bring the values to life.
- Incorporate the values into standards used for hiring, promoting and firing employees
- Incorporate key points into onboarding and training materials so new hires start with the right mindset
- When sharing company news, include how values influenced key decisions. This reinforces their importance and reminds every one of their common mission
- Invest in helping employees realize their potential. Free food and ping pong are appreciated but may not provide lasting fulfillment. Dedication to professional growth keeps employees engaged and eager to reciprocate
- Empower employees to take risks and learn from their mistakes. This implicit trust encourages creative problem solving and a willingness to fail forward
- Develop a truncated version of the value statements that can be shared with the public and consistently include it in press releases. Tailor it to key audiences, so it’s always ready to plug in
- Lead by example. How do you engage with your team? Do you encourage collaboration and respectfully challenge ideas to make them better? Start by assessing your habits and behaviors against the written values.
The power of a values-driven culture extends beyond internal policies and communications. This strategic work you’ve done becomes your face to the world because employees will be a living, breathing extension of the stated values. Customers, strategic partners and vendors are drawn to companies whose values align with theirs. The influence of a values-driven workplace increases as it grows. It becomes a win-win-win equation.
It can be helpful to collaborate with experts who understand best practices when building your corporate culture. Are there any legal concerns or potential pitfalls with the identified values? Should you adjust them slightly to protect future interests? MidwestHR, a top CPEO in Illinois (certified professional employer organization), can provide the advice you need to move in the best direction. Unlike other PEOs, we are happy to help you with just one area or all your daily HR duties. What works best for you is what matters most to us. You decide how much you want to outsource. Give us a call at 630-836-3000 to learn more.