You don’t need an advanced degree or a ton of experience to uncover your company’s values. This blog post will guide you through what’s needed.
Once you’ve identified how people work best within your organization and why they want to work for you, you can then tailor your internal and external messaging to encapsulate these values in an authentic way in order to attract top talent.
Your company values will become the bedrock of your organization, forming the “rules of engagement” or playbook for how each employee (regardless of department or rank) goes about their work. They should become a part of your EVP and template for interviewing job candidates. And they can even be a part of your employee feedback and reward strategy.
So how do you discover what your company values are?
Though they may not be stated or agreed upon, your company already has a set of values that it’s operating under. The trick is to uncover what they are. You’re going to have to become a bit of a detective and put your research cap on.
It’s not just up to leaders or the CEO to decide your company values. Though they have likely had a heavy hand in building the company and hiring the people who form the culture, every individual brings their own set of values to the organization. These values, together, contribute to a rounded strategy that balances personal bias and blind spots.
When just a few people create the values that the company operates under, you’re at risk of not representing your true culture and value set because you haven’t created buy-in with your employee base.
- Start by surveying your entire employee base.
Depending on the size of your organization and your bandwidth, you may want to run a traditional survey form or opt to do focus groups. Either way, ask open-ended questions that get to the bottom of why people work for you and how they describe the way your company operates, makes decisions and relates to one another.
Questions to ask your people:
- What are three words or short phrases that describe our culture?
- How would you describe our work environment?
- Describe the kind of person who succeeds here.
- What are the traits or behaviors you think should be valued and hired for here? (e.g. technical knowledge, high performance, creativity, integrity, kindness, commitment to customer, teamwork)
- What are the traits or behaviors you think we actually value, hire and reward here? (e.g. technical knowledge, high performance, creativity, integrity, kindness, commitment to customer, teamwork)
- What are the 3 things you value most in the people you work with? (e.g. technical knowledge, high performance, creativity, integrity, kindness, commitment to customer, teamwork)
- What is unique about us?
- What are the 3 top reasons that you choose to work here?
- What do you like most about working here and would like for us to continue?
- What did you like best about your previous employer?
- What do you think is one thing that we can improve here?
- Which benefits of working here do you enjoy most?
- What motivates you to go above and beyond at work?
For more ideas on what to ask your people, check out Culture Amp’s article. Try to leverage a balance of neutral, positive and slightly negative focused questions. This will help you to see your company’s areas of strength as well as where you need to continue improving to grow in health and reach optimal employee engagement.
- Review the results, categorize and narrow.
When you’ve collected your first round of data, take some time to look it over and start to make notes of patterns you see. At Calendly, we exported the results of our people survey into a spreadsheet. We grouped similar questions into categories like: what we desire in our people, facets of our brand/culture, benefits, motivations and areas for improvement. Then we grouped similar keywords and phrases and tallied them for each question set.
- Identify trends in the results and organize a report.
From here you can use the combination of quantitative and qualitative data to find trends and highlight what is distinct about your company. Maybe your company really values flexibility and work-life balance or maybe they crave and appreciate structure and guidelines. Once you have these trends outlined, it’s time to present it to the company leaders and help them digest the data.
- Present to your leaders for feedback and narrowing.
Your leaders can offer helpful feedback in a review and brainstorming session that will take you a step closer to developing the labels and messaging depicting your value set. Have them vote on the top 4–6 values that they feel are a part of your current company culture and also where they want to see the company going in the future. You should leave the meeting with the top four to six values that your company both embodies and aspires to. These should be characteristics that can be translated into actions and can be improved on over time to reach your company goals.
Rally note: if you’re looking for more detailed guidance on how to uncover and activate your EVP, take a look at our Rally Ideabook 5 Steps to Fast-Track Your Employer Brand.
How do you write the copy and integrate it into your employer brand collateral?
- Compose the messaging and applications.
Once you have the final set of values that you want to guide your work, partner with your Marketing team to craft copy that is understandable. Each value should have a clever (but not gimmicky) label and a description of three to five sentences.
Additionally, you will want to identify what actions illustrate this value and what actions do not. These behaviors need to incorporate the work and relationships of every department and function. For example, if one of your company values is “Delivering Exceptional Customer Service,” but you have some teams that are internal facing, then make it explicit how their work, attitude and actions impact the customer.
- Incorporate into content and EVP.
Once you have this value set, incorporate it into your culture deck and candidate personas. Link to your values or post them directly on your careers page and incorporate them in candidate-facing content like campaigns, blogs and videos. You can also use employee stories to show your values in action. This article by The Muse offers some great tips on how to create employee stories that stand out.
Most importantly, draw the connection between the values and the outcomes you want them to help you achieve. By doing this, you make your values the cornerstone of your work and a part of your EVP.
Illustrating for employees how their behavior affects the company’s success is not only essential for employee engagement, it also appeals to candidates. When your values are clear and accurately portray the company, job candidates can determine whether they are a fit for the company from the outset and get excited about the impact they can have there. And isn’t that every Recruitment Marketer’s dream?