At your core, what do you value? I value community. My partner and I are in the process of buying our first home, and when deciding where to live I had one request of the neighborhood: It must be somewhere where we’ll have trick-or-treaters. This might seem silly, but it’s a representation of what community means to me. Neighbors coming together and having a good time.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise I’ve found myself working for a company that recognizes community as one of its core values. Now more than ever, people want their workplace values to align with their personal ones. Defining company values is important. But then what? Far too many organizations identify their values, drop them onto the “About Us” section of their website and stop there. Those companies are missing the absolutely critical next step: using those values to authentically engage employees.
A personal commitment to an employer’s core values is a top driver of employee engagement.1 So once your values are on your website, what should you do next to engage your people?
Talk about them, and talk about them often.
I hate to break it to you, but no one reads the “About Us” page of your website as much as you’d like to think they do. So this simply can’t be the only place your values live. Instead, integrate them into the fabric of the communication at your organization. Every potential hire should hear your values in the interview process. They should be part of every employee’s onboarding. Performance reviews, leadership messaging, companywide milestone celebrations – all of these areas present the opportunity for you to reiterate the core principles that make your company tick. And if communicated effectively, these values have the potential to create an emotional connection with employees and inspire them to be an advocate for your organization.
Make your values programmatic.
Our core values at KWI are growth, community and exploration. These values made their way off our website (phew!) and into what we call huddle groups, with each group representing a different core value. Huddle groups are a way for our employees to share ideas and affect change within the agency. They’re also a way for employees at every level to experience our values in tangible ways. The growth huddle group, for example, recently launched KWI’s new Community Partnerships Program – an initiative where we’re partnering with nonprofit organizations to help them achieve their communications goals for free while giving our people opportunities to grow. (You can read more about it here.) Look for programmatic ways like this to bring your company values to life for employees.
Be unwaveringly authentic.
If you take away one thing from this article, let it be this: Believe in what you’re saying. Engagement can’t exist without authenticity. So don’t take your values lightly: Really believe in them. Remember, your employees are looking to work for companies that align with their personal values. You owe it to them to be authentic. And given that companies with engaged employees are more productive and experience better retention, authenticity is what’s best for the bottom line, too.2
Once you take action in these areas, you can start feeling more confident about that “About Us” page. Because you’ll know your values span far beyond your website and are being lived out by employees within your organization.