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How corporate values function in an organisation

2 April 2019

± minute read

    How corporate values function in an organisation
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In a previous article – entitled Why do we formulate values? – we spoke about what values are, both in terms of individual and corporate values. In this article we delve deeper into corporate values.

Different interpretations of values

As we’ve said previously, corporate values are essential for an organisation to develop as these function to give the company a purpose that they can strive towards. However, says Cobi Hayes, research psychologist at JvR Psychometrics, it’s okay for different departments to have slightly varied interpretations of the company’s values: ‘Each individual in the various departments within a company will have to integrate into the overall company value structure. It does not matter if there are a few differences between departments owing to the different roles that they play in the organisation.  At the end of the day, they need to contribute to the overall strategy of the business.’

How to get all employees to buy into the company’s values

There are different approaches to getting employees’ buy-in to the company’s values. These are dependent on the:

  • Employee,
  • Industry, and/or
  • Context within which people work.

According to literature, the process that seems to be working best is when the company’s values are communicated in a practical way and are applicable to that person’s job. ‘I don’t necessarily think that the message should be the same for senior management as for employees on the shop floor, because the higher up on the management level the person is, the clearer are the strategic goals of the company,’ says Hayes.

Values are not rules

Often people confuse values with social norms or governance procedures. Values transcend context. For example, if an employee values innovation he or she will be innovative across all spheres of their lives. If innovation is a societal norm or governance procedure it will only be applied in the context of work.

Values are seen as beliefs

There are many emotional connections attached to values. If one takes, for example, how people react after an election. When they share values with a party or person who were elected, they may react with joy and satisfaction. On the other hand, if they feel that a specific party or person contradicts their own values, the reaction may be one of frustration or despair.

Company values attract talent

The values of an organisation play a great function in attracting talent. As much as companies are selecting for talent, the talent is also selecting which companies they want to work for or be associated with. Those potential employees who are aligned with your company’s values will be drawn to your organisation and will ultimately become a better fit than those whose values are not aligned to you. As we mentioned at the end of our previous article, JvR Psychometrics has developed the Corporate Values Questionnaire (CoVaQ) Values Culture Survey. This tool can be used to determine what the current value culture of a company is. A second tool, the CoVaQ Person-Organisation-Fit, is currently in its research phase. This tool is aimed at selecting candidates into positions based on value fit. If you are interested in assisting us with the research on this tool, please contact us.

For more information, please contact us on +27(0) 11 781 3705/6/7 or send an email to

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