Blog·Company Culture

March 2, 2021

Employee Engagement: How to Align EE with Company Values

Employee engagement has myriad benefits – but it can be a challenge. Find out how to keep your employees engaged and motivated with core company values.

In the world of HR, employee engagement is the word on everyone’s lips. We are conscious of the link between engagement and company success - and most leaders create a strategy with this in mind.

However, the role of company values in engagement is often overlooked. Think about it – employee engagement is about the level of commitment an employee has in the company they work for. Engaged employees are emotionally invested in the success of a company. They show up for more than just a pay cheque.

A company with an empty set of values will struggle to have this effect on employees. More than 75% of respondents said it was ‘very important’ to work for a company with a clear set of core values. Unfortunately, companies that do not live up to their values are all to frequent.

In this blogpost, we’ll show you how clear, meaningful company values can drive up engagement.

Role of Company Values in Employee Engagement

What is employee engagement?

Engaged employees find work rewarding. They arrive at work in the morning buzzing with ideas. They are invested in company-wide goals – and feel purposeful about moving towards them.

CIPD defines three aspects of employee engagement:

  1. Vigour (energy, resilience and attention to detail)

  2. Dedication (finding inspiration, motivation and feeling pride)

  3. Absorption (focus and finding your flow at work)

Employee engagement is clearly linked to motivation – so HR needs to consider what drives employees at work. In order to feel absorbed by their work and dedicated to it, employees need to feel that smaller tasks build towards greater goals.

Aspects of Employee Engagement

What are core company values and how do they effect employee engagement?

Company values are the building blocks of your company culture. They are behind every transaction your company makes. Values should be consistent – so that through times of change, employees have some guiding principles to hold onto.

Employee engagement is an internal feeling or mindset – but it is also associated with how an individual feels within an organization. Organizational identification is key to employee engagement - a feeling that one’s own aims/ interests/strengths align with those of the company.

Employees who identify with the company’s vision are more likely to be engaged. Managers and HR must communicate values in a clear and inspiring way. For example, Ben and Jerry’s Mission guides provide a clear personality for employees as they start at the company. It also provides an inspiring ‘mission statement’ for employees to rally around.

Benefits of improved employee engagement

Improving employee engagement is a worthwhile aim. Employees who are engaged experience better wellbeing and find work more rewarding. The company itself benefits from increased productivity and better outcomes.

  • Employees are better motivated

  • Boosts productivity

  • Better collaboration

  • Improves business outcomes

With this in mind, we’ll explore how you can align company values with your engagement strategy.

Benefits of employee engagement

How to align corporate values with employee engagement

1. Involve all employee levels when writing company values

It is the CEO’s role to draft up the company’s values. However, if they create values that are irrelevant to frontline employees and managers, they will lack sticking power.

Consult all company levels and tenures as you write your company’s values. Vivian Maza recommends asking employees “if your company was a person” type questions. For example, you might ask what personality traits they most associate with the company – is it friendly, welcoming, hard-working, creative?

This provides an honest picture of how it feels to be part of your company. Company culture is difficult to grasp because it is the personality of the organization - only your employees can provide an accurate picture.

If responses are inconsistent – this should immediately ring alarm bells. This suggests that your core values are not reflected in the day to day experience of your employees.

2. Cultivate purpose among your employees

Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why provides a great model for leaders. He writes that “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.”

In other words, it is more meaningful for us to understand purpose than process. We are most motivated when we can grasp the company’s mission – and when we feel like an integral part of that mission.

Purpose is so crucial to employee engagement. It’s that feeling when we arrive at work and are confident that we can make an impact towards the company’s goals that day.

Compelling core values help build purpose, as employees are more aware of the driving values behind what the company does. Your core values may not fully explain the 'why' you do something, but they definitely add meaning to your mission.

For example, if your core values are customer service and integrity, your why might be to serve your community and improve convenience for your customers.

If your company is true to its values in every interaction with employees – they are more likely to fully engage with your ‘why’. Employees are more likely to go the extra mile.

People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it. Simon Sinek

Purpose at work for employee engagement

This video provides some great tips on how to work by your values - from James Franklin, coach of Penn State's Football program.

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3. Value relationships in your organization

Managers make up 70% of the variance in employee engagement. This tells us that employee relations are key to engagement.

High performance company cultures value relationships. This means they prioritize community. When employees feel connected to both their co-workers and managers, they are more likely to feel engaged by the company culture.

Find ways to build a community that reflects your core values. If one of your core values is integrity, you might prioritize open communication, honesty and empathy. Managers should action this when they communicate with their teams.

Managers could adopt a coaching management style to more actively engage employees. Coaching managers are invested in their employees’ personal development goals. This improves the employee’s motivation, as managers recognize their progress and cheer them on.

4. Encourage collaboration based on a clear set of values

Collaborative work is also a great way to build employee engagement. Teamwork requires a common purpose – which should align clearly with your core values.

Core values are not just a PR move - something for the outside world that doesn’t match your company’s internal workings. They are the identity of your company – and all employees contribute to this identity.

A team identity is needed for great collaboration. Relevant core values builds common purpose between team members and a desire to work together. By making values clearer and more central to the tasks at hand, team members are more likely to build more sustainable working relationships.

According to a Deloitte Digital study, employees’ working relationships with colleagues was the second most important aspect in employee satisfaction.

Working with our dream team prevents burnout, boosts morale and fosters creativity.

By cultivating a clear team identity, every employee is aware of their role. When every employee brings something of value to the table – employee engagement skyrockets.

Collaboration for highly engaged employees

5. Express how your core values relate to work ethic

We’ve all felt those Monday blues – that feeling that work is the last thing we want to do. These negative feelings reduce our productivity and wreak havoc with our wellbeing.

Employees who feel this way regularly are disengaged – and managers and HR must create a strategy to improve motivation.

Your company values and culture should reflect the work ethic you seek in your employees. Go further than a standard code of conduct.

Instead, you could hold lunch and learns with tips on staying motivated. Encourage employees to use fun apps to set goals during the day. Even better, your CEO could give an inspirational speech about their work ethic – and how everyone in the company can aspire towards this.

Through these small steps, you create a company wide work ethic. Better motivated teams are also better engaged teams.

Improve employee engagement with clear work ethic and values

6. Check in on your company values with an employee engagement survey

Living up to your company values will not happen overnight. An employee engagement survey can help HR to track how employee experience matches these values.

Create a company culture section in your engagement survey. Ask employees to write down what the company’s core values are -- so you can measure awareness. Adjust your strategy if your culture is falling short of your employee’s needs.

Employee engagement requires clear values

Employee engagement is the secret ingredient to creative, collaborative organizational cultures. Do not underestimate the power of company values to create purpose and engage employees.

If you’d like to learn more about employee engagement, why not read our Essential Guide to Employee Engagement?

PeopleGoal's surveys and tools can transform engagement in your company. To find out more, book a demo today.

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