We recently launched Roundel 2021, our in-depth report on global employee experience trends (and, if you ask us, the best thing to come out of 2020!). If you haven’t had a chance to dive into the full report yet, don’t stress – we’re going to be covering some key themes right here on our blog.

Just like last year, we asked our respondents to share their top priorities for the year ahead…

32% said values

Since values are the guiding principles that help your business to deliver the right employee experience (we like to think of them as an organisation’s moral compass) and with almost one third of our respondents placing them at the top of the 2021 priority list, we thought they were the perfect topic for our first Roundel blog of the year.

Why focus on values now?

As we all know, 2020 was a year like no other. And, in the face of the pandemic and unprecedented pressure, company values either withstood the test…or fell by the wayside.

We’re not surprised that organisations are focused on cementing a set of authentic values that have just the right amount of stretch, because a great employee experience drives an even better customer experience, building brands from the inside out. Getting your values right gives you a sustainable competitive advantage. More than 1/10 of our respondents said that not having a distinct brand is their biggest challenge for 2021. If that’s you, values are the perfect place to start.

Translating values into behaviours

Before we go any further, we need to flag that it’s simply not enough to have a shiny set of values that sound good and look the part. For values to truly stick, they need to come alive through behaviours.

We like to think of it this way…values are high level and broad, capturing what an organisation stands for and believes in while behaviours are a business’s values in action. In a nutshell, we believe this (value)…so we do this (behaviour).

For your framework to genuinely work, you’ll need to make sure that you’re bringing both elements together, sharing real observed actions alongside each of your values to make things meaningful.

How to get values right…

1. Be unique

Values can get a bad rep for being too generic. Did you know that 65% of companies featured in a 2018 MIT Sloan Review survey listed ‘integrity’ as one of their values? Remember, values are your company’s DNA – so they shouldn’t be like anyone else’s!

2. Mix it up

Don’t be afraid to be creative and play around with language to give your values an edge. Fashion retailer Superdry has ‘Creativation’ as one of its values – a blend of the more widely used ‘Creativity’ and ‘Innovation’. That won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s ownable and works for them.

3. Unpack the ‘why’

Netflix asks its employees to be ‘extraordinarily candid with one another’. Their ‘why’? We learn faster and better when feedback is part of the normal day to day. Trust us, spelling out the ‘why’ will make your values so much more powerful.

4. Focus on actions (not words!)

Telling someone you’re ‘brave’ means nothing if it’s not backed up by action. During the pandemic, we saw several great examples of values driven decision making. One of our favourites was from Experian who brought their ‘value each other’ spirit to life by launching a virtual wellbeing programme covering topics such as isolation, working families and personal wellbeing to set their workforce up for success.

5. Check yourself

If you want to make sure you’re hitting that sweet spot (where employees feel the values, are empowered to live them authentically and have the autonomy to make the right decisions) a cultural diagnostic is the place to start. Ask yourself…

  • Do our values feel concrete or abstract?
  • Are they generic or ownable?
  • Are they linked to results?
  • Do they capture the unique essence of what makes us, us?

By getting your values right, you’ll be driving advocacy and loyalty both inside and out during 2021 – and beyond!

Stay tuned

We’ll be back soon with more employee experience insights based on Roundel 2021. In the meantime, you can download the full report, for free, here.