How A Values-Based Culture Benefits the Bottom Line

So what is a values-based culture and why should companies strive to become one?

Well, to answer that question, let’s go back to the definitions of organizational mission and vision.

The organizational vision is a statement of the future. For example, Hilton Worldwide says they want to “fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.”

The company’s mission statement tells people how they plan to accomplish their vision. For instance, Harley Davidson says their mission is to “fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.”

Organizational values are those values that allow the organization to complete their mission and ultimately fulfill their vision. So it makes complete sense. Organizations need to embrace the values that will help them succeed.

Ideally, organizations should hire for values. They should set employee expectations, provide training, evaluate performance, and offer promotional opportunities based upon organizational values. Southwest Airlines is a well-known example of a company that has incorporated their values into their people practices. If you look on their careers page, they have four core values:

  1. The Warrior Spirit refers to working hard and going the extra mile
  2. The Servant’s Heart is about respect and relationships, both with co-workers and customers.
  3. Fun-LUVing Attitude needs no explanation. It’s the concept of doing serious work but not taking ourselves too seriously.
  4. Lastly, Work the Southwest Way connects to the principle that the company was founded on – being a safe, reliable low-cost airline that treats customers well.

By hiring, training, managing and evaluating based upon values, the organization creates greater employee engagement. Employees are aligned with organizational values, which improves morale and productivity. High performing individuals and teams are positioned to create and innovate. All of these things lead to organizational success.

Now, there is one word of caution. This only works if the organization is 1) sincere about their values and 2) makes values-based decisions. Here’s an example: If your company is a “work hard, play hard” environment, but the values on the company’s website say something different, then disconnects will occur. And if the company values are on the office walls but not used in hiring decisions, then disconnects will happen. Disconnects equal set-backs to the company achieving its mission and vision.

Becoming a values-based culture can bring huge benefits to the organization. It doesn’t happen overnight. The first step is building a foundation of learning so employees hold themselves and each other accountable for values-based decision making.

How do you do that? Stay tuned for part two in this series on building a value-based culture.