There is no disputing what every employee in the 21st century wants.

Regardless of where they are positioned in the organisational hierarchy, they want to find as much fulfilment as they can through their work, whether on a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual level.

It is this intrinsic desire to reach one’s maximum potential that will, above all else, motivate employees at work.

Often misunderstood and underestimated, values are preferences and priorities that reflect what’s most important to an individual. They make meaning possible and provide us with the motivation to act.

Research has shown there are over 100 values that we may draw upon to live our lives. Those conscious of their highest priority values are more fulfilled in their personal and professional spheres. 

in the workplace, values are ubiquitous.

They indicate what is most important to each employee and form the basis of the organisational culture. They are closely reflected in all our behaviours at work and, according to research, provide the basis for our decisions, more so than rational analysis.

According to the 2012 Randstad Award employer branding research, out of the top five most important factors for an individual when choosing to work for an organisation, four — job security, employee benefits, strong workplace culture, and exciting role content & job satisfaction — are inextricably linked to one’s value framework.

Therefore, it would be remiss of any organisation to ignore the importance of values as a critical part of their employer branding strategy: they are one of the most potent ways to reach out to their potential existing workforce individually.

why values alignment is in vogue 

It’s a compelling fact that organisations that do not have core values will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talent. But having these values alone is not enough: for an organisation to reap the benefits of a robust set of core values, these values must genuinely resonate with each individual, which requires the organisation to be an expert at articulating and communicating them efficiently in their Employer Value Proposition

Organisations often fail to realise that personal values such as safety, security and honesty will always override organisational values. Thus, aligning individual and corporate values is key to any organisation achieving its desired outcomes.

Interestingly, research shows when organisational and employee values are aligned, the result is typically a more productive and innovative environment, where managers are more effective as they have taken the time to understand what their employees want and how to provide it. They are, therefore, in an excellent position to effectively drive their employer's brand strategy throughout the organisation.

On the contrary, organisations lacking this alignment are often described as backward and bureaucratic, and management finds it harder to hire and retain talented people.

hiring for “values fit” 

It might be helpful to go back to basics simply to align personal and organisational values.

Business leaders should regularly ask themselves these simple questions:

  • As an individual, when did I last evaluate my priority values?
  • As a leader, when did I prior consider the values of my existing people and those that predict success in my team? 

Values are deep-rooted feelings about what is important to someone; they are mostly submerged below the surface and are not as visible as personality characteristics, technical skills or experience. Thus, it is not unusual for a hiring manager to overlook values as a significant predictor of a candidate's potential ‘fit’ during the selection process. Yet values are also more stable, enduring and challenging to change than behaviours.

the implication is simple:

  • if you hire someone whose values are mismatched to those of the organisation, it will be hard to shift their thinking.
  • It will prove challenging to retain them beyond the honeymoon period. 

Studies have also shown that an employee’s preference for a particular organisation and their subsequent tenure is far more strongly influenced by their values than by their personality. And yet, as HR professionals and employers of choice, we often emphasise the importance of a good ‘personality fit’ when attracting candidates. Perhaps we should be placing more emphasis on a ‘values fit’?

The most innovative organisations tend to acknowledge the importance of personality and value characteristics and consider this duality for hiring, management and retention purposes.

yes, we can measure values 

Regardless of how advanced an organisation’s human resource practices are, organisations that are serious about looking beyond behaviour for clues as to individual/culture fit need to master the art of values identification.

On the one hand, this can be a complex process that requires measurement to be robust, objective, universally applicable, and capable of distinguishing values from emotions, morals, behaviours, virtues and ethics.

On the other hand, it can be a simple process of asking value-based questions in addition to behaviour-based ones during the interview process — “describe your values in action” type probing could be a simple and cost-effective way to take your selection process to the next level. 

Values are at the core of any organisational culture. Yet, many employers still pay little more than lip service to them and rarely go further than gathering senior managers once every two years to write company values out on butchers paper and announce them to their staff.

Ultimately, organisations that operate with their values in a deliberate and organised manner and can effectively articulate and communicate them to their team create a distinct advantage for themselves over their competitors.

This will genuinely maximise organisations' employer value proposition in a tight job market where candidates are less afraid to ask for exactly what they want. At the same time, it will send a strong message to their current workforce, which ultimately remains their best brand ambassadors in the market. 

Randstad Employer Branding Research 

The Randstad Employer Branding Research report is the world’s most extensive independent research on employer branding, based on data from more than 100,000 people across 14 countries worldwide. The study is unique in Australia, measuring the employer attractiveness of the country’s 150 largest commercial employers (by employee size). 

Companies cannot nominate themselves or determine categories or criteria for entry. Respondents are asked to rank the factors they most value when choosing to work for a company in order of importance.

The information gathered provides a unique insight into how companies are perceived as employers and which industry sectors are the most attractive to potential candidates.

Randstad Employer Branding Research Report

For an in-depth discussion and to receive a full copy of the Randstad Employer Branding research report, please visit the Randstad Award page.

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