Why Businesses Can't Succeed Without Strong Organizational Values

by Dora Wang on Jul 30, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Why Businesses Can't Succeed Without Organizational ValuesOrganizational values. You've probably heard that term, maybe from HR, maybe from company leaders. But why does something like having organizational values matter for your company? Well, you wouldn’t start a road trip without a map, right? The clearer a goal is, the better the chance that it will be achieved.

Your company values are the foundation of the organization’s identity. They’re the concepts and qualities that your company considers most important. Strong organizational values shape the perspective, behaviors, and priorities of everyone who works there, from top leaders on down.


Your Company’s North Star

Organizational values help you define who you are — to your staff, to the people investing in your business, and even to yourself. They shape your culture and create a self-defined standard for you to hold yourself accountable to. Like your own navigational fixed point, they help you make decisions:

  • Hiring and firing decisions
  • Business expansion decisions
  • Day-to-day decisions

When something has you stuck, you can refer back to your own values and mission to see which of your options holds true to your beliefs.

Sadly, not everyone in the workplace has this guide. Our 2013 Engagement Survey found that only 42% of employees can say that they know their organization’s vision, mission, and values. Less than half the workforce knows what they should be working toward at their company every day.

And it’s not just employees’ fault for not knowing. 39% of employees polled by BlessingWhite say their senior leaders don’t act in accordance with a company’s guiding principles. So workers aren’t getting a strong message about what their organization’s values are. In the meantime, they’re still doing essential work for the company . . . but it might not be done in the way that would best serve the company’s vision.

Wouldn’t you want your employees’ decisions to be directed by your most important principles and ideas?

organizational values

Boosting Employee Happiness

In our 2015 Industry Ranking Report, we found that workers in construction and facilities services industry ranked number one out of all industries for employee happiness. We took a look at how employees in this sector responded to one of the TINYpulse questions: “Do you feel our company values are aligned with your values?” Their answers make it clear that sharing values with your company and your coworkers makes you happier on the job:

“The company values have a customer-centric mindset as do I. Our challenge is how to effectively provide superior customer service and communication from a process-driven place.”

“I share the values of the company in my personal life. That is one of the things that make it very easy to love working here.”

“One of the most satisfying things about working here is the close alignment of the company values to my own. That my peers overwhelmingly share the same values is icing on the cake.”

What’s more, neuroscience supports the connection between organizational values and happiness. Stanford University’s Jamil Zaki conducted research on how people’s values relate to being part of a group, and here are some of the most interesting ideas for company leaders.

  • Social connection: It’s important to us that our values are shared by the rest of our social group. In Zaki’s research, people who were told that their opinions were the same as the rest of the group experienced a reward response in their brains.
  • Shifting values: Zaki also found that if a person learned that their value judgments were different from their peers, they shifted their opinions closer to the group’s. In other words, social connections can actually change a person’s values. So company values help by giving them a shared set of values to agree upon.

Boosting Employee Retention

Once you’ve brought in the right talent with your company values, they’ll want to stick around too. A study by Right Management found that employees’ commitment to their company’s values is a key driver of their engagement. It’s no surprise, since people need meaningful work in order to feel engaged. A series of tasks with no connection to a wider company identity is not going to inspire an employee’s commitment. But feeling like you’re together on the same mission can be deeply fulfilling.

So organizational values can help you recruit and retain happy, engaged employees who know how to play their part in achieving your company mission. Why wouldn’t you want to use them?



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This post was written by Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement researcher for TINYpulse and managing editor of TINYinstitute. Having grown up in Texas, she is now firmly settled in Seattle, where she spends her free time reading comic books, wrangling her three cats, and (of course) rooting for the Seahawks.

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