Employers must decide if they are a values-based organisation or not, it’s that simple
Employers who want to promote themselves as a values-based organisation risk employee disengagement and reputational damage if they then don’t then live up to their promises.
Employees choose to join or leave an organisation for a myriad of reasons, and a lack of authenticity on the part of the organisation or individual members of the leadership team is a significant contributor.
Employee expectations have been changing for many years, and it is no longer sufficient to just offer a competitive salary and an acceptable physical workplace environment. Many employees are now looking to work for organisations they can be proud of, organisations who are ethical, authentic and visibly live the values they promote. I have personally watched good people leave organisations because they didn’t live up to their values promises and I have heard about many more.
When employees leave for these reasons, they will rarely tell the employer, usually because they perceive an employer who says they are value based but operates differently would hardly be interested in such feedback. However, they will tell their friends, colleagues, family and even more damaging, social media websites that rate employers.
The reputational risk is self-evident and substantial. Not falling into the gap between promises and delivery is easy to say, but sometimes harder to do. It requires ongoing commitment and vigilance in monitoring consistent compliance. If you think you may be currently falling into the gap, here are some steps to follow:
- Undertake a critical review of the promises to employees about values and culture.
- If there are values or culture promises which are not being lived up to, determine if they are promises that the organisation is sufficiently committed to. If they are, then develop strategies to ensure delivery on those promises. If they are not, then stop making them.
- Hold the leadership team accountable for demonstrating commitment to the values.
- Hold employees accountable for conducting themselves in a manner consistent with those promised values and consistently call out behaviour which fails to meet the required standard.
Don’t risk losing good staff or ruining your reputation in the market by underestimating the importance others put on values and being authentic. We hear it a lot and it is true, “the conduct we walk past is the conduct we accept”. If conduct is inconsistent with the organisation’s espoused values, and a member of the leadership team walks on by, expect it to be noticed by employees and considered evidence of a lack of authenticity.
Finally, it is not just employees who seek to deal with ethical organisations. If losing good employees or exposure to reputational damage is not enough risk, the same lack of commitment to deliver on value promises may well result in the loss of customers or clients.
If you need assistance in assessing delivery against your organisational values, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 3218 3014.