As Your Company Evolves, So Should Your Values

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Feb 15, 2019

There’s no way around it – change is a cornerstone of business. As your company evolves, so should its values. A 2005 survey of large employers found 90% had a core values statement. Thirteen years later, an unscientific poll of almost 100 HR professionals found the majority suspect that most of their employees couldn’t recite their company’s core values.

To avoid falling in that same category, consider putting a process in place for refreshing your core values – especially as your company grows and changes over time. From global expansion to continued diversification, numerous factors can influence your business and result in previously established core values not representing your company as accurately as they once did.

At my company, AvePoint, where I’m a TA and culture leader, we have grown exponentially since our values were first established, so we took the opportunity to refresh our values last year to determine the best interpretation of our people and our business.

We believe there’s a significant benefit in updating core values, including higher employee engagement and more effective recruiting in today’s tight labor market. Reap such rewards by securing support from leaders in each department, taking employee feedback into account and reinforcing your company’s new set of core values.

Identify advocates

Skepticism can stop a core values refresh before it ever gets started. Work your way around hesitation on the part of employees by gaining support from decision makers across the company. Whether they’re in the finance department or on the executive team, leaders and managers who recognize the importance of cultivating new core values can help spread the word company wide.

To leverage the influence of those you can count on as advocates, highlight the positive changes that have impacted your company and how it operates. For example, as awareness of a more diverse workforce starts to increase, leaders across your company may see the value in refreshing values that better reflect where the business is now compared to in years past.

Once you win over key players, consider creating a core values committee to help keep the initiative moving forward and ensure that a wide range of viewpoints are taken into account. At AvePoint, this committee helped us flesh out a fresh set of core values long before rolling them out. Instead of wondering how the new values would apply to different departments, we used insights from each advocate to ensure the values were representative of all employees.

Involve employees

 Knowing core values are in need of a refresh is one thing, but figuring out how to change them isn’t always easy. Gain insight from your own employees by testing out focus groups and online surveys. By asking employees to dish out ideas for new core values or even collecting their feedback on the current core values, you can start to see patterns of what may need to be adjusted.

Not only will you receive some inspiration, but you’ll also raise employee engagement. The result? Improved retention and productivity – not to mention greater profitability. According to research from Gallup, organizations in the top quartile of engagement experience 21% higher profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.

Conversations with current employees can also shed light on how specific values are received throughout an organization. Global companies in particular need to remain conscious of the fact that some values may have varying translations or meanings across offices in different countries.

Over the course of a year, leaders at AvePoint used interviews and focus groups to unveil perceptions of each core value from employees around the world. Be sure to account for those types of cultural differences as you develop a new set of values and ensure every voice is heard and respected.

Evangelize your values

 Even after you’ve refreshed your company’s core values, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Ensure your new values are more than just talk by demonstrating what they look like in action. Proof points that are specific to each department can make it easier for employees to identify situations in which the new values are being applied. The departmentalized proof points at AvePoint align to each teams’ goals and achievements, as well as mid-year reviews.

Better yet, help your organization stand out in the competitive job market with interview questions that are tied to your refreshed values. 86% of millennials would take a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values match their own. Given today’s historically low unemployment rate, it’s crucial to understand the needs and preferences of job seekers. Develop questions that highlight your company’s new values.

Following our core values refresh, hiring managers at AvePoint now make a concerted effort to mention each new value during the interview process. In addition to increasing their familiarity with the values, hiring managers who employ such a strategy also point out how our company stands out from the crowd.

Share what makes your organization unique by encourage hiring managers to make your core values part of each interview. The more emphasis they place on your company’s core values, the easier it will be to attract candidates who align with those beliefs.

Recognize employees

Another way you can keep new values top of mind is by establishing an employee recognition program. Six out of 10 organizations have employee recognition programs that are tied to their core values. Of those organizations, 88% say the programs have helped reinforce their core values.

Our employee recognition program at AvePoint is a prime example of how nominating peers for specific values can make those values more prominent. Highlight your new values across the organization through a program in which employees can point out co-workers who live by such values on a daily basis.

Core values communicate what’s important and contribute to the overall success of your organization, so it’s crucial to keep your new values alive in your everyday workplace. In addition to the initiatives listed above, we talk about our values in employee testimonial blog posts and videos, customer presentations, and deal highlights during quarterly townhall meetings.

As your company continues to thrive, change is inevitable. Update your core values to ensure they’re inclusive of every employee – regardless of where they work or how long they’ve been at the company. Taking steps to refresh your company’s core values – including surveying employees and developing proof points – promises to pave the way for greater employee engagement while also helping you attract better talent.

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