How a Values-Driven Organization Creates a Winning Culture and Fosters Employee Engagement

by Jill Krumholz, on Feb 6, 2023 9:30:00 AM


The most successful organizations are deliberate, not only in their growth plans but also in how they develop and support their people and culture. This article explores the importance of defining and articulating your organization's values, so they positively shape your culture, bolster employee engagement, and drive productivity. 

We will discuss the following:

  • Starting with Core Values to A Build Strong Foundation
  • The Importance of a Positive and Engaging Work Culture
  • Key Steps to Designing a Culture Rooted in Corporate Values

If you want your organization to be known as a safe place where people want to work, purchase goods and services, or connect with you somehow, you need to create a culture that manifests your belief system and that others find attractive.

Starting with Core Values to Build a Strong Foundation 

Core values are the overarching rules or principles that inform what your business is about and how it operates. An organization's belief system should be an underlying factor in everything you do – how you interact with customers, develop and market products and services, and treat employees.  

Successful cultures emerge from a well-thought-out belief system that is defined, regularly communicated, and reinforced. In organizations where corporate values are strong, and employees are intimately familiar with them because they live them daily, the culture positively brings staff members together around a commonly stated purpose. As a result, employees are more likely to feel connected and good about their work environment and be more productive. 

The Importance of a Positive and Engaging Work Culture

When a company invests the time to create a "winning culture," the benefits are numerous. Attractive cultures positively impact employee recruitment, retention, productivity, and long-term success. 

Younger generations, who now dominate the job market, seek strong cultures that reflect and align with what is important to them personally and professionally. Not only will they select an employer based on culture, but they will also freely share their experiences and impressions on social media, where they instantly reach friends, family, colleagues, and followers. This wide-sweeping outreach will significantly influence the perceptions of those outside your organization.

Your values and beliefs also affect your company's financial success. Customers, investors, stakeholders, and employees want to interact and be associated with organizations that stand for something. Where they decide to spend or invest their time and money often aligns with certain corporate beliefs and values.

 On a more nuanced level, your employees are often critical contributors to the opinions formed by these external contacts. Employees project their feelings about your organization in all their outward-facing interactions. When they are engaged, feel safe at work, and reflect your values to the outside world, such exchanges will likely differentiate your company and positively impact your mission and goals.

Key Steps to Designing a Culture Rooted in Corporate Values

Your culture will positively or negatively affect your organization's ability to reach its goals and fulfill its mission. So, be proactive and invest time in developing a culture that reflects your values, supports your mission, and drives success.

 Include the following action items in your plan to define the culture right for your organization. 

1.   Culture Starts with Leadership

It is human nature to mirror behavior (both good and bad), and employees look to their leaders to show the way. Board members and executives set the tone, so their conduct and interactions with employees, customers, and the public must reflect your values and the desired culture. 

When factoring in the impact of leadership, do not stop at the C-suite. For your culture to become ingrained, those in charge at every level of your organization must forge that path forward. Remember that some managers may naturally demonstrate your corporate belief system, but others may need some coaching and training. 

2.   Formalize Your Values and Mission

Establishing official values and mission statements is critical. As discussed above, the most successful cultures grow out of well-defined, communicated, and implemented belief systems.  

If your organization already has mission statements, review and update them as needed to account for current circumstances and future plans. If you are at the starting line and just forming your value statements, consider including employees and other stakeholders in the discussions.

Creating committees comprised of a diverse pool of stakeholders also helps to foster an environment of collaboration and co-creation, which significantly increases engagement. Their input often provides unique insights and perspectives, and the end product will not feel like it was implemented unilaterally.  

3.   Reflect Your Values in Everything You Do

Today, standing by your values and taking steps to support them plays a significant role in creating an authentic work environment that empowers employees to feel a sense of community. Employees and other stakeholders recognize a company's commitment and authenticity when its business life and corporate citizenship correspond with its values.

For example, your values should inform the development of your HR policies and practices that help define your culture. 

  • Encourage work/life balance by implementing paid time off and alternative work arrangement policies that support flexibility. 
  • Support a growth mindset by providing all employees with coaching, continuing education, and training opportunities.
  • Exemplify effective communication and transparency by incorporating straightforward messaging into your onboarding process and allowing employees to ask questions freely and provide feedback.
  • Foster a safe environment by implementing a workplace safety platform.
    • Employee safety is top of mind for many employers, especially in industries like hospitality. A recent survey, Hands Off Pants On, found that 58% of hotel workers have reported being assaulted on the job in some way. By proactively implementing a workplace safety platform, you can show your employees that you are investing, not only in the value they bring from their work, but in their safety as well.
  • Improve your workforce diversity by updating recruiting methods – source candidates through varying online forums, invite employee referrals, and actively partner with affinity and community groups to reach underrepresented groups. 
  • Prioritize positive reinforcement by embedding frequent and varying recognition for achievements, both big and small, into your performance management system.

Consider conducting an employee survey periodically to ensure your practices align with your goals. An external HR consultant can assist you with your plans.

4.   Measure Yourself Against Your Goals and Commit to Evolution

Take a hard look at your organization. Are you living up to the values you espouse? Are you intentional and authentic in your mission-driven work? Where you note shortfalls, identify what is working and what needs additional development.

The same applies to marketing campaigns and other opportunities to interact with the community. In the broadest sense, how you formulate your external messaging, where you share your corporate talents and assets, and the decisions you make about who and what you support in your community should directly link to your corporate belief system. 

It's important to remember that before tackling any concerns, recognize the positive and reinforce those initiatives and behaviors to maintain morale and momentum.  

Prioritize what needs to change, and make a plan to work through things over time. Do not be tempted to try to fix everything at once. Start by identifying a few values and practices that need immediate attention. 

 One way to obtain this information is by conducting a culture survey. Such surveys identify best practices, flag deficiencies, and ensure that your policies and programs align with your desired work atmosphere. Conducting a survey can be challenging – often because we are too close to the subject and other times because we do not have the staff or bandwidth. External consultants specializing in HR can help with this endeavor. 

Embedding your values across your organization will lead to a more harmonious work environment and overall organizational success.  

A "winning" organization is defined by having a solid foundation and a values-driven culture. In today's competitive market, now is the time to evaluate how your organization works to ensure that you're developing and fostering a safe work environment and culture where employees and leadership can work hand-in-hand to realize your organization's mission and stay engaged. 

If you want to get started defining culture in the workplace and creating a safer work environment sign up for a free overview of a workplace safety platform:

About the Author | Jill Krumholz, Managing Partner at RealHR Solutions. Jill brings to RealHR Solutions experience as a business owner, executive search consultant and corporate HR professional. Throughout her career, she has had the ability to build strong relationships, identify client needs and help company’s find solutions. 

Topics:Thought Leadership Article