Cobi Hayes | CORE | Research Psychologist
COVID-19 forced many companies to adapt to new ways of work and, without hesitation, thrust us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. While companies are all still trying to adapt to the changes and uncertainties in navigating this new world of work, they often forget that the entire core of who they are as companies has rapidly evolved. We see entire sectors becoming virtual, greater collaboration between teams, and a faster adaptation of technology to aid virtual work. We also see an increase in personnel development and many of us have to unlearn ways of doing things to ‘move with the times’.
All these changes will inevitably impact the culture of companies. We may start asking ourselves:
A. Are our corporate values still relevant in the new world of work?
B. How do we know if it is time to update our values?
C. Is this a good time to try and re-evaluate corporate values?
A quick Google search on the importance of corporate values (since COVID-19 hit our shores) yielded over 3.6 million hits. This suggests interest in corporate values. But why?
Corporate values guide our business objectives, much in the same way as individual values guide our behaviour. When corporate values align with the business objectives, the behaviour of our employees will be guided towards those objectives. Corporate values also show the public – and more importantly, clients – what your company stand for. It helps you to build your reputation and establish your identity within your target market.
However, when there is a misalignment between the corporate values that you sell to the outside world and those that are lived in your company, you may find that your workforce is less engaged, your clients distrust your brand, or your business outputs decline. How do we know when your values are no longer aligned? We have put together a quick checklist that you can ask yourself:
- Has your company recently undergone a significant operational change?
- Has your company recently gone through a restructuring process?
- Are you uncertain about your organisation's reputation within the industry?
- Are your corporate values just words against a wall, rather than integrated into the company culture?
- Can your employees explain the meaning of each of your corporate values?
- Can you draw a clear link between your corporate values and the business outcomes of your company?
- Can your current values be pulled through to all levels of employees?
- Have your corporate values recently and continuously been communicated to your employees and other stakeholders?
- Do you include corporate values in your performance management?
If you answered ‘yes’ to questions 1-4 or ‘no’ to questions 5-9 then it might be time to revisit your corporate values. Remember, revisiting your values does not necessarily mean you have to completely change what you put against the wall. It may just mean that you need to identify why there isn’t alignment between your corporate values and the lived values in your company. A culture survey could provide you with an indication of where the misalignment lies and provide you with insight into how you can address it.
If corporate values are in line with the business outcomes of your company and your employees are aligned to the values of the company, then your employees’ behaviour will contribute to reaching your business outcomes. This is more important in current times where increasing numbers of companies are working virtually. When employees feel that the company values are aligned to their own, they feel a greater sense of belonging, which fosters engagement between employees and can alleviate challenges in social isolation.
Tougher economic times present an ideal opportunity to make sure that your corporate values are still relevant in terms of changes in your industry. It also provides you with an opportunity to rethink which corporate values will guide your company forward and best speak to your business objectives. Making sure that there is an alignment between your employees’ behaviour and the values of your company can also enhance your reputation with existing and new clients.
You should of course remain sensitive to the fact that disengagement from employees during times of crises might flag other problems and is not necessarily a result of a misalignment between their values and those of the company. Remember to continuously check in on your employees and make sure that they are coping.
Interested in company culture and values?
Help us collect data on the Corporate Values Questionnaire (CoVaQ Fit) – a tool that identifies alignment between corporate value statements and current employees’ experience of those values. You will also receive the CoVaQ Culture report FOR FREE!
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