Values Matter Redux
I published an article a few years ago called Values Matter. Doing project management at an employee engagement company, I had learned that the best engagement programs:
- demonstrate a company’s core values, and
- build alignment by attaching a higher purpose to what every employee does in the organization.
Employee engagement programs are a great way to incorporate company values in everyday life by incentivizing and rewarding values-based behaviour.
Designing great employee engagement programs is one thing. The challenge is living them day in and day out. As you can imagine the best-designed programs don’t mean much if employees don’t buy into them. And the typical response I get when employees aren’t buying in? Management isn’t walking the walk. In other words, there’s a misalignment between what we say and what we do.
Company culture falters when companies don’t practise their values. Miscommunication inevitably happens which leads to frustration, anger, and silo-like (fiefdom) behaviour.
Oranges to Orange Juice
Moving from business to personal values isn’t as much of a stretch as you’d think. Our personal values greatly influence our daily behaviours at home and in the office. Susan Scott who wrote Fierce Conversations points out when you squeeze an orange at home, you get orange juice. When you squeeze an orange at work, you get … orange juice. We are who we are.
Most of us want to work in places that reflect our values and when that doesn’t happen – where there’s misalignment – we experience dissonance. Over time, this dissonance coalesces into dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction can progress to less engagement. Full circle again to engagement programs. They can’t “fix” an ailing culture but they can reinforce a healthy one.
What matters most
As we gradually emerge from this pandemic, we see it all around us. We are experiencing The Great Resignation. Millions are voluntarily exiting their current jobs and millions more – low-paying, frontline jobs – are not getting filled. Why? People want and deserve better. They want to work for companies that walk the walk where values aren’t displayed on the front lobby wall and otherwise ignored.
Happily, we see alignment from top to bottom, personally and professionally, when we live our values. We witness the rise of voluntary certification programs such as Certified B Corporations that combine purpose and profit. Or the growth of the Living Wage movement.