How Values Impact Decision Making, Behavior, and Communication in the Workplace

As we ring in the new year, we often think about what makes our business relevant and exciting, as well as what holds us together when times are tough. When access to technology makes leaving a job easier than ever and buzz words like “recession” are thrown around, many employers worry about keeping their employees engaged during the good times, much less the bad.

In our 15 years of work developing businesses, we have discovered that values-based cultures are a steadfast competitive advantage that not only unites people but transforms performance. 94% of executives feel workplace culture is important to business success, yet, shockingly, half of employees cannot recite their company’s values. Also, executives are known to be more confident when their business strategy is more clearly defined than their cultural strategy, despite their beliefs these two areas should be treated equally. At Transcend, we know looking inward at company values minimizes turnover rates, enhances productivity, and fuels performance. Values are the glue of any organization, large or small. And, the adoption of values from top to bottom of a company can either make or break a culture of agile employees who are resilient through change, committed to learning, and continually motivated. Let’s dive deeper into why values are crucial to your company’s culture and overall profitability.

Values and Impactful Decision Making.

According to research conducted at Deloitte, “Exceptional organizations have core beliefs that are unique, simple, leader-led, repetitive, and embedded in the culture.” When leaders act and make decisions according to the company’s values, they outperform their counterparts by 27%. By making decisions congruent with the stated values of an organization, executives gain support, respect, and trust from their employees. Unfortunately, only 15% of employees strongly believe their culture is upheld within their own organization and 58% of workers say they trust strangers more than their own boss! In today’s workplace, trust must be earned. It has been proven leaders earn trust by keeping promises and acting in accordance with what they preach. Reportedly, employees work best when they feel trusted and when they can trust their supervisors.

Values and workplace behavior.

A recent Harvard Business Review article about how to keep good employees motivated, explains the first cause for unmotivated employees is a mismatch in values. We’ve noticed a common perception of values among employees is this: Values mean nothing at my work. No one knows them and no one follows them. My company just wants to make money and they don’t actually care about employees. When we ask employees why no one knows their company’s values they typically reply, “They aren’t taught.” Often, businesses will present company values through initial onboarding, but the conversation stops there. How, then, can businesses continue to reinforce company values throughout the employee lifecycle and integrate them into overall culture?

At Transcend, we not only dedicate time for discussing values throughout our onboarding process, we intentionally use values as a focal point during staff meetings and as a driver in decision-making processes and strategy planning. We recognize and praise one another within the company for showing specific values, post them on our office walls, and bring them to life through interactions with clients. Our values are embedded in our culture, our language, and our actions. Integrating company values into all aspects of daily business exponentially increases connectedness between employees as well as their work. Values spur organic cohesion among employees. They allow teams align and work toward the same vision. At Transcend, our value of contribution means we have the responsibility of bringing ideas and product to the table, as well as the responsibility of allowing others the opportunity to do the same. Not only do our values serve as the fuel we need to triumph over obstacles, they give us the motivation to remain agile and accept challenge. When a company consistently engages its employees through clear, meaningful, and relatable values, it limits disengagement among its workforce. When the work becomes important through a network of shared values, employees remain engaged.

Values as a multiplier.

We know positivity is a multiplier to unlock potential. Without it, the likelihood of maximizing human potential for self, people, and teams is zero. Attitude is made up of perceptions, judgements, and emotions that shape your responses to people, events, and moments in your life. When leaders focus on what is good and meaningful and choose to communicate appreciation to their people, employees feel more inspired and motivated. In fact, 79% of people quit their jobs because of “lack of appreciation” from their leaders , but 89% of leaders believe their employees leave for better pay. Most of us agree it is in our nature to feel the need for appreciation. At work, recognition may come from feeling a sense of belonging or influence in something greater than ourselves. For others, appreciation may come in the form of receiving a simple “thank you” for a job well done. By using values to create a culture where gratitude is communicated, you will see your employees’ sense of commitment, motivation, and agility increase. Employees state recognition is the number one thing their manager can offer that would “inspire them to produce great work.” We know that when employees feel positive about their contributions, self-worth increases, productivity increases, they conduct better interactions with customers, and bottom line profitability increases. Not only should your values embody and communicate values of appreciation, you should be communicating these values often and intentionally. Positivity is a multiplier, use it to multiply your bottom line.

Guidelines we recommend for creating a values-based organization in 2020:

Lead by example.

Don’t just state what your values “are” and then act another way. Your employees will mirror your actions and decisions.

Define your role as a leader.

Decide what actions you will take in communicating your values. It is helpful when leaders outside of HR roles talk about them too.

Communicate your values often.

Whether you do this in the form of meeting ice breakers, company-wide events, employee rewards, or public statements, discuss your values on a regular basis. If you “set and forget” your values, your employees will do the same.

Recognize and reinforce values.

Recognizing values can be done monetarily and non-monetarily. Remember, employees want to be appreciated, even a simple “thank you” goes a long way. When you are recognizing an employee for demonstrating values, be specific. Additionally, be sure your environment and expectations reinforce your values. For example, if you state your company values work/life balance, but continually praise employees for staying late and answering weekend emails, your actions do not reinforce your value.

Post your values.

Make them seen by employees who walk the halls, people who visit your buildings, and available on your website.

Values should be an integral driver of your culture. If your employees are not thriving in the values you would like your company to stand by, it is time to try something new. We work with companies across the country to create strategies that embody both their business strategy and their talent management strategy, while embracing values and vision. For more information, check out our blog on Transcend’s Insights page or email us directly at contact@transcendbusiness.com.

Jaci Reed's profile picture.

Jaci Reed

Senior Executive Coach

As a Senior Executive Coach and Senior Human Resources Professional (SHRM-SCP), I have more than a decade of experience coaching and consulting senior leaders and executives across various industries. I have worked closely with executives to lead high-level internal strategic initiatives in organizations both large and small, giving me an intimate understanding of the makeup of their internal functionality and the roadblocks they typically encounter.

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