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Annette Franz

Customer Care

Do Your Employees Believe in Your Company’s Core Values?

Do they even know what the company’s core values are?

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 12:02

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of an organization; they guide executives and employees in identifying which behaviors and actions are right and which are wrong. Everything you do must be aligned with your core values, and core values should be integrated into everything you do. When in doubt, ask: “Is this the right thing to do? Does it fit with our core values?”

I've written about core values a number of times; a few of those posts, for reference, are:
“Living Your Core Values”
No One Is Looking”
“Seven Pillars of a Strong Culture”
The Soul of the Organization”

The good news is that most companies (89% globally) have written values statements. Read on for the not-so-good news.

I’m a fan of including employees’ input in the selection of the core values. The following quote from Benjamin Franklin is so fitting here: “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I learn.” It’s even more fitting when you see the statistics about how many employees don’t know their company's core values.

Research from late 2016 shows that only 53 percent of employees know their employer’s core values. In a more recent webinar poll, only 11 percent of HR professionals reported that 80 percent or more of their employees know the core values. With a little convoluted math, you can figure out that it’s not an impressive response. Those numbers should be 100 percent. But they aren’t.

What’s a brand to do? If you are one of the 11 percent of companies that doesn’t have core values, make it a priority to establish them this year. Let’s just say you’ve got core values, but employees don’t know them or live them. Now what?

Well, let’s think about this for a minute. And let’s not put all the onus on employees. Did the core values just show up on a wall one day without any communication or explanation to employees? Yes, this happens more times than I care to count. Just in the last month alone, I heard two examples of this!

And do the values actually resonate with your employees? According to Gallup, only 23 percent of U.S. employees believe that they can apply the core values to their work, while only 27 percent believe in the values.

When employees believe in the values, align with them, and live them, they are more likely to stay with the company. So let’s get on the right track here.
Involve employees in selecting and defining your core values and the associated behaviors.
• Once you’ve established what those core values are, you’ve got to communicate them. It’s not too late to do this. If you can’t remember the last time there was any communication about the core values, or if they just showed up on posters one day without explanation, it’s time to outline your communication plan. And then stick to it.
• It’s so important for executives and leaders to model the behaviors that they wish to see, the behaviors that align with the core values. Actions speak louder than words. Words on the wall are a start, but behavior is where the rubber hits the road. Executives, how are decisions made? How are resources allocated? What are your priorities? Do they jive with the core values?
Recognize behaviors that align with the core values, and reinforce with incentives, promotions, metrics, and more. Reinforcing the values and the corresponding behaviors makes them real.

In a Booz Allen Hamilton/Aspen Institute survey, 85 percent of respondents stated that their companies rely on explicit CEO support to reinforce values, while 77 percent say CEO support is one of the most effective practices for reinforcing values. It starts at the top. Maybe it’s time for a chat with your CEO.

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ’em all over everything you do.”
—Elvis Presley

First published March 27, 2019, on the CX Journey blog.

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About The Author

Annette Franz’s picture

Annette Franz

Annette Franz is CEO of CX Journey Inc, a boutique customer experience strategy consulting firm specializing in helping clients ground and frame their customer experience strategies in/via employee and customer understanding. She has 25 years of experience in the CX space and has been recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” by Business Insider and by several other organizations as a top influencer in Customer Experience. She is an active CXPA member, as a CX Expert and a CX Mentor; she also serves as an executive officer on the association’s Board of Directors.