Why Your Lack of Clear Company Values Is Losing You The Best Employees

Over half of UK Professionals consider knowing an organisation’s company values a deal-breaker when it comes to choosing a new job. And yet, according to research by LinkedIn, more than a third of businesses don’t put their company values on their website and an astounding 77% don’t put them on their LinkedIn business page. But this is hardly surprising, when one in ten HR and recruiting professionals confess that they are not well versed in their company’s values.

1. Why are company values so important to the prospective candidates?

Employees genuinely have an interest in finding a company that they can believe in. The more worthy candidates are those that look for the right company fit. Finding “quality hires” and reducing staff attrition can be dependent on finding candidates who fall in with your company values. By not revealing these from the offset, you are putting off potential candidates.

The survey found that:
More than half of UK professionals (52%) consider Company Values a deal-breaker. This is even more the case for younger candidates (56% of those aged 16-24 years).


2. So what’s the problem?

The idea of company values and culture can be a little difficult to get one’s head around. It’s something that’s always existed, but hasn’t always been defined, written down or called as such. It’s traditionally just been ‘the way we work’ and ‘how we do things’ and ‘what we stand for’. Being able to articulate these values to employees makes it far easier for staff members to buy into and convey to other people - including job candidates.

As people are more aware of the terms, they actively seek them out. If they aren’t conveyed on your website, mentioned in your online social channels, reflected in job ads, or discussed in interviews; candidates and other stakeholders will assume they don’t exist and won’t know what you’re about.


3. Stark findings

We were shocked by LinkedIn’s findings; most notably that:

  • 36% of company websites are missing the company’s values
  • 77% of companies don’t articulate their values on their LinkedIn Company page
  • 61% of employers don’t mention their organisation’s values in interviews
  • 27% of companies don’t mention values in job ads

4. OK, how can we solve this?

As with so many things in life, identifying a problem with conveying company values is the first step to a solution. If you have already established your company values, make sure that they are made an important part of your company literature and online presence. Then, skip ahead to point 7. If you’ve yet to determine your company values, read on for short guide to the process for this.

5. Not sure what Company Values are?

In short, company values define who and how you hire; how you implement and deal with change; how you treat your customers, employees and other stakeholders. It’s the way you work, what you stand for, what you won’t stand for. It’s part of your culture. Shared values between management and staff allow for more cohesive work patterns, a better way of communicating, a shared understanding of well-defined goals and ethos.

Ultimately, it’s incredibly important. That’s why potential candidates place so much value in them. The brand starts with employees. They are the fabric of any business. Their understanding of the company values are critical for conveying that message to the rest of the world. If they don’t understand it, no-one will. You’ll have mixed messages and mixed results in everything you do.

6. Defining Company Values - a quick guide

Get a taskforce together
This is not always an easy process and it’s important that a good cross section of the staff agree with the outcome. This could even be a company wide exercise, as part of a team-building activity?

Each person should write down some personal values
Be honest. Values are what you already are, not something you’d like to be.

Compare and contrast with other team members to find a common theme.

Then apply this to the workplace and think about the following questions:

  • What is important to our company?
  • What is unique about our company?
  • What is our company NOT?

Send these out to the rest of the team for their input. Some people suggest even sending this to friendly ex-employees for their additional input.

See if the values pass these tests, created by Chris Moody, VP of Data Strategy at Twitter:

  • Is this aspect of the company important to our long-term success?
  • Does this aspect need to be maintained forever and is it sustainable?
  • Does this aspect apply to all areas of the company and to all employees?
  • Will establishing this aspect help us make important decisions in the future?

Test and retest. Remember you won’t make everyone happy, so don’t aim for perfection.

7. Applying these values - don’t expect miracles

Once your values are in place, you might find a few bumpy moments. You might discover some pain points that will require a lot of TLC. You might find that some staff members simply don’t fit the values and some may even leave (although it is likely that this would’ve happened anyway, and speeding up this departure might not be such a bad thing!). You might find resistance to what people deem a ‘change’.

But establishing some clarity, consistency and good communication will see you through any turbulence at this stage. And will open your company up to far better candidates in the future.