The Buzz About Core Values in the Workplace
Company culture is a big deal these days. We talk about it a lot, especially when it comes to hiring and candidate conversion, but many companies don’t really understand what it means.
Demonstrating it can be even more difficult.
At its core, company culture comes down to how it feels to work for the company. Paying attention to this core can help further define culture and values in a more analytical way. The core values in the workplace all lend themselves to the overall mood, the flow of work, the productivity, the innovation and creativity and eventual success of any company.
Establishing the Culture and Values in a Workplace
Start by trying to determine how it FEELS to work at your company. As an HR professional, hiring manager, recruiter or other type of manager, you might be able to access your own experiences as an employee of your company to answer this question. But, you may have blind spots too. You may be insulated from the reality of working in the trenches. It’s possible that some of your managers are treating workers differently than they treat you.
Go out and ask questions. Make sure your people know that they can speak openly, and don’t be offended by the responses. You may be surprised at what you hear. Look for repeated answers. If more than one person is saying the same thing, individual personality might be less of a contributor and you may have a more systemic issue.
Workplace Values Examples, And Some to Avoid
Do you value people more than results? Do you get employee buy-in on big decisions?
Do you have an open-door policy? Do you welcome openness or do you prefer professional distance?
Are your managers open and direct communicators? Do you have a traditional workplace or do you lean toward a more modern, laid back structure? Is your org chart flat or tiered?
Do you give back to the community? Is there a posted list of values, or are they implied? Do your people feel like family or do they feel like individuals who produce work product and not much more?
Is it more important to be honest than to make a profit?
These are all indicators of culture and values. Here are some things that are NOT examples of culture:
- Ping pong tables
- Company outings
- Soda and snacks in the break room
- Happy hour
- Christmas bonuses
- The CEO wearing funny hats on Fridays
- Birthday traditions
These are all nice, and people may feel some enticement because of them. But they are PERKS, not demonstrations of culture. If your office morale is low and your managers are oppressive and hard to please, an ice cream machine in the break room isn’t going to make up for it.
Companies often use these perks as a tactic to cover up problems that are harder to fix, and candidates are less impressed with them as time goes on.
Let’s Talk About The Importance of Core Values in the Workplace
Think of hiring as a dating process.
On your first date, would you tell them that you drive a nice car and have a cabinet full of chips and snacks in your apartment? Would you tell them that, if you start dating seriously, you will take them once a year to a movie?
While dating and hiring are not exactly the same, there are more similarities than you might suspect. Your new hire will spend more time, in some cases, with you than with their own family. And the stakes are high in this relationship.
There is a lot of money involved, a lot of time and energy investment on both sides.
The employee, once locked in, will have a hard time leaving. There is a lot of emotional investment, and it’s difficult to search for a new job when one is already busy with a full time job. You will have invested money and hours of training which can walk away on two legs at any time.
So, if hiring is like dating, what kinds of things do you want to know about your date? Do they want a family? Are they religious? Are they up for a party anytime or do they prefer to stay in and watch Netflix? Do they like the spotlight?
These are not the questions you ask a candidate, but you are looking for the same thing. Values and culture or personality. And they want to know the same thing about you.
Demonstrating Company Values and Culture for Future Employees
The best way to communicate the overall feeling, values, and culture of your company is through photos and videos. Leveraging these media pieces through your careers page and in your social media feeds can spread the word and reinforce your willingness to be authentic and transparent.
The rising workforce is made up largely of millennials, and millennials look for jobs online. They do all their research online, they look wherever possible to find everything they can about you. So cover all your bases.
Take photos with your smartphone. Use a tripod sometimes, sometimes don’t. Make sure the photos are composed well, with a lot of lighting and decent backgrounds. But don’t worry about imperfections. Photos that are too perfect will look like stock photos, which are decreasing in popularity. Authenticity is key to forming trust with a millennial candidate, and trust is everything.
Look at Google’s career page to see this in action. The overall feel is unstaged, imperfect, revealing, and authentic.
Make a video in a day using a cheap tripod, your iPhone and some $8 shirt mics from Amazon. Get some soundbites from your employees in an informal way. Catch laughter and “outtake” type activity. Have people talk about their impressions of the values of the company. Have them relate good experiences, let them tell their story. Zappos has a highly rated and awesome video.
Use iMovie to edit. There are a lot of YouTube video that show you how to use it, but it’s one of the easiest video editing formats out there. Plus, it comes with tons of great free audio tracks.
Here is 3M’s culture video and an example of what not to do. Formal, expensive videos are not necessary and not helpful. This type of video doesn’t really tell much about how it FEELS to work for 3M, because it’s obvious that the company is putting a lot of polish on it.
Determining and demonstrating company culture is something that should be taken very seriously. Just like in dating, your candidates will be looking for everything they can about you, and if your outward image is phony, inaccurate, or worse, non-existent, the best of them will lose interest and move on to the next person.
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