Aligning Shared Values in the Workplace: 8 Strategies for Success

Shared values are crucial for recruiting and retaining top talent. By clearly articulating your values, you'll speak directly to your ideal employees.
three colleagues sitting at a shared table together

Looking to attract and retain employees who genuinely align with your company's values? It all starts with getting crystal clear on what matters most. Shared Value Alignment between employers and employees doesn't make the headlines frequently, but it is an influential variable that companies need to understand in the employer-employee dynamic.

Hiring employees who share a company's values is crucial for several reasons. First, it fosters a strong sense of alignment and cohesion within the organization. Employees who believe in and uphold the same values are more likely to work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and pursue shared goals, which creates a positive and harmonious work environment.

A good friend, let’s call him John, recently made a bold decision demonstrating how influential the desire for shared values in the workplace can be. As a successful executive John had a lucrative corporate job in a prestigious company. However, he grew dissatisfied, longing for more meaningful work aligned with his values environmental conservation and sustainability.

A few months ago, he learned about a nonprofit organization focused on protecting endangered species and preserving natural habitats. The cause resonated deeply with him and after careful consideration, John boldly left his high-paying corporate job to join the nonprofit.

Though transition meant a significant pay cut, John found immense satisfaction in being part of an organization aligned with his values. He formed meaningful connections with like-minded colleagues who shared his passion for the cause. While this is an extreme example, it demonstrates the power of shared values. Not everyone is able to pull the trigger for such a substantial change in life, but rest assured most employees are more likely to be engaged and motivated if their values match their company's values. 

Resonating with an organization's mission and purpose increases job satisfaction and commitment. Employees that feel aligned with a company’s values are also more likely to go the extra mile and contribute their discretionary effort, which can drive innovation, productivity, and overall business success.

Hiring individuals who share the company's values enhances the cultural fit. A cohesive culture built on shared values promotes teamwork, trust, and a sense of belonging. It strengthens employee morale and reduces conflicts or misunderstandings arising from value misalignment.

Furthermore, employees who align with the company's values are more likely to embody its brand and represent it positively to customers, partners, and stakeholders. They become brand ambassadors, reinforcing the company's reputation and building trust with external audiences.

Hiring employees who share the company's values creates a cohesive and engaged workforce, fosters a positive culture, drives productivity and innovation, and strengthens the company's brand and reputation. It aligns the collective efforts of employees towards a common purpose, enhancing the organization's overall performance and success.

At this point, shared value alignment is a hidden superpower that companies should leverage as it benefits employers and employees.   

One of the most important first steps on your journey to attract and retain employees sharing your company's values is clearly articulating them. For example, you must give potential hires ample opportunity to understand your company values. While this may feel like artificially narrowing down the pool of applications, which could be perceived as counterintuitive at times of talent and skill shortages, it will do the opposite by speaking more specifically to your ideal employees, who will feel drawn to your business. 

To clearly articulate company values, consider the following steps:

Find clarity on your values

Work together with your team, employees, and stakeholders to define the core values that define your company's culture. Keep it simple and focus on what truly matters to your organization.

Express your core values in a stickable way

Use language that is easy to grasp and resonates with everyone involved. Leave out the fancy words and corporate jargon that only confuse people. At UKG, our values are expressed in the following three short words: United, Kind, and Growing. Apple: "Think differently", Starbucks: "Inspire and nurture the human spirit,” Tesla: “Accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy,” and Disney: "Create Happiness." 

Bring your shared values in the workplace to life

Share real examples that show how they come into play in everyday situations. Connect the dots between values and behaviors, decisions, and actions. Help your team understand how values guide their work. 

For example, Google's value of "Innovation" is demonstrated through its famous 20%-time policy, where employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their working hours on personal projects that align with the company's goals. This initiative has resulted in groundbreaking innovations such as Gmail and Google Maps. By giving employees the freedom to explore their passions and pursue innovative ideas, Google showcases how their value of innovation translates into tangible actions that drive the company's success.

Make sure your values are heard loud and clear

Share them through various communication channels, like team meetings, newsletters, and your company's website. Let everyone, inside and outside the organization, know what you stand for.

Share stories that illustrate your values in action

Paint a vivid picture of how employees embody the values to overcome challenges, deliver outstanding customer experiences, and make a difference. Stories create lasting impressions.

For example: In "The Culture Code" by Daniel Coyle, he tells the story of Pixar's culture while making "Toy Story." They realized the movie wasn't up to snuff, but instead of playing the blame game, they embraced open communication. They had intense meetings called "braintrust", where everyone, from directors to animators, shared their thoughts and found solutions together. This safe environment allowed them to push their creative limits and create a fantastic film. Coyle uses this story to show how Pixar's collaboration and trust culture made them an animation industry leader.

Recognize and reward employees who consistently demonstrate the values 

Weave the values into your recognition programs and rewards systems. Let everyone see that walking the walk comes with its perks.

Provide training and development opportunities that focus on values alignment 

Help your team understand how to incorporate the values into their daily work. Please give them the tools to practice what you preach.

Ensure leadership demonstrates the shared values in the workplace

Your leaders set the tone and should be encouraged to lead by example and embody the values in their actions and decisions. When employees see their leaders living the values, it inspires them to do the same.

By following these practical steps, companies can effectively articulate their values and create a shared understanding among employees. This clarity helps shape the organization's culture, guides decision-making, and fosters a sense of purpose and alignment within the workforce