As an HR manager, you know why it's important to have a culture that values ethics, accomplishes your organization's goals, and thrives on productivity and communication. But how will you make this achievable? What can you do to create a culture that fosters all aspects of business such as collaboration and customer satisfaction?
The solution is to utilize employee recognition programs. While there are a number of statistics, like employee recognition improves engagement by 2X, that show how recognition is vital, employee recognition is essential when it comes to creating a value-based culture.
What Is a Value-Based Culture?
A value-based culture is a type of culture within an organization that is built around a set of core values that make up the identity and goals of the organization. These values guide the decision-making and behavior of the employees within the organization and can foster a sense of purpose and meaning.
Typically, a value-based culture will lead to cohesiveness and a more productive work environment since all employees share the same core values.
How to Build a Value-Based Culture
Now that you know what a value-based culture is, let's get into how to build it so that your company can thrive on shared values. Start by taking your company’s workplace values and incorporate them into your employee recognition programs.
There are several reasons why this is important, but overall this will incentive employees to demonstrate values in the workplace. However, if you do not have these values already established then you’ll need to build these values out before you can start creating a value-driven culture.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when building out values:
1. Define the Core Values
Core values should be aspirational, realistic, and specific. Take the time to define the organization’s core values, as these will serve as a cornerstone of deeply ingrained principles to guide the behaviors and actions of the organization and all its members.
If being independent is something that all your employees should strive for, then choosing values such as ‘autonomy’ or ‘competent’ could be good guiding principles for your organization. Try to keep your list of core values small and take the time to decide on behaviors that build into each value.
2. Communicate Values in the Workplace
If they’re just words on a wall, your values won’t get you very far. Values should be consistent, easy to understand, and communicated from leadership all the way down to the front-line employees.
You can communicate values in the workplace through storytelling and real-life examples of how your organization or employees have demonstrated. This also gives you a chance to recognize employees for demonstrating these organizational values. Whatever methods you choose to communicate your values, be sure that employees can find them relatable and tangible.
3 . Embed the Values
Workplace values should be embedded into all aspects in your organization, from hiring and onboarding to performance evaluations and recognition programs. Encouraging employees to live out these values in their daily work will help ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and that your culture remains strong.
4 . Lead By Example
If maintaining a work-life balance is a value, but your leaders never take time off, you might be sending the wrong message. Leaders in your organization should be demonstrating your values since they serve as role models and set the tone for how employees should behave and make decisions. Value-based leadership is important in creating a value-driven culture because it sets a standard of what is expected of all employees.
5. Recognize and Reward Behavior
Recognizing employees for demonstrating core values is one of the most crucial steps in creating a productive and thriving workplace culture. This can be done through bonuses, promotions, or other forms of recognition. When you recognize those who demonstrate value-driven behavior, you reinforce those values for everyone.
Tailor Programs to Values
Once you have your values nailed down, communicated—and let’s be honest, probably on a wall somewhere—it’s time to drive those values home with specific employee recognition programs that can help your employees demonstrate those values and show their stuff. Why are specific programs needed? Well, think of it this way: if an Olympic athlete knew the benchmark they had to hit to get the gold, but didn’t have an event to compete in, that would be a bummer, right? Having more than one catch-all recognition program is crucial to encouraging your values with your employees.
Make Recognition Personal
No individual is the same (that’s why we call them individuals) and likewise there’s no right way to recognize. Reaching out and recognizing your people can involve seven different methods, each of which will be useful for different people and different situations.
It’s also vital to remember that how you recognize is just as crucial as who you recognize. Just like a car clipping down the highway requires a symphony of parts working together to serve the whole, it’s important that you consider both “how” and “who” in your recognition efforts.
Recognize Behavior That Supports Culture
So you’ve defined your values, communicated them effectively, set up programs to recognize those values as they’re demonstrated, and done your homework to know the best ways to recognize your employees. Now what?
An employee that demonstrates values in their work should be appropriately recognized and rewarded. In fact, 40% of Americans would put more effort into their work if they felt adequately recognized. In light of that, can you afford NOT to recognize your employees? However and whenever you recognize, it’s important to remember that feeling valued comes from receiving actual value. Think of it this way: does the communicated value you give either through recognition and/or rewards match the value the employee gave?
When value is demonstrated, communicated value should be felt. And there’s no better way for an employee to feel valued than through rewarding recognition—and the opportunity to choose their own reward.
Let's Start Building
Value-driven recognition is the engine of engagement for your organization. As you define your values, communicate them to your workforce, give opportunities for those values to be demonstrated by employees, recognize your employees for embodying those values, and then reward your workforce in the right ways, you’ll see values become behavior—and behavior become the culture of your company.