What moves organizations to focus time, energy, and resources on building a values-based culture? While the specifics may vary, here are just a few reasons: (1) the need to unify disparate groups (eg. following a merger or acquisition), (2) the recognition of a competitive marketplace, and (3) an ever-changing talent pool.
A values-based culture holds that an organizations’ values are what support its’ vision, shape its’ culture, and reflect what is important to the organization. In essence, they are the organization’s identity – the core principles and beliefs.
At Ceridian, for example, we believe that our values define who we are and we look to them as guiding standards of behavior both internally – with our colleagues – and externally with our customers. Over the past several years, as Ceridian merged with Dayforce, and our US and Canadian organizations began operating as a single business, we introduced ‘Our Way’ – our five values which are now used globally.
If your organization is looking to build or strengthen your culture and you’re planning on focusing on your values as a foundation, here are some ‘lessons learned’ from our experience:
Start at the top
People learn about values less from what we tell them and more by what we show them. It may seem obvious, but as with most any strategic initiative, support and modeling from the top of one’s organization is essential. At Ceridian, our CEO, President, and Executive team were a key part of the development of ‘Our Way’ and from the beginning, have integrated our values into Town Halls, All-Hands Calls, client meetings, and employee summits.
On-going training and education is required
I presented on this topic last year at Ceridian’s annual INSIGHTS conference with one of our customers, Wayne Unks, CFO of CoGo’s. Wayne shared what he has learned as the leader of CoGo’s journey building a values-based culture. Wayne shared five key points:
- Clearly define terminology – ensure that everyone within your organization understands how you have defined your values
- Teach the concepts with examples – values can be abstract and therefore using examples and stories is crucial to cement understanding
- Provide simple opportunities to immediately apply what is learned
- Recognize and reward successes – things which are reinforced tend to be repeated
- Integrate terminology and concepts into everyday conversations and activities
It takes time and patience
The process of fully integrating values into a culture takes time. In fact, it is a process that requires on-going support, reinforcement, and resources. Introducing an initiative like this can take several months to do properly. And, once introduced, organizational values must be constantly integrated into everyday practices. This includes:
- integrating values into your recruiting processes to ensure strong fit
- ensuring that all new hires are introduced to your values early in their onboarding
- incorporating values into Reward and Recognition programs
- ensuring that People Leaders include discussions of values into performance development conversations
According to Wayne’s culture journey with CoGo’s , the experience may be “the hardest and most time consuming change effort an organization will undertake, but it can be the most rewarding.”
We recently conducted a survey at Ceridian – an exploration of how we have done in introducing our values across our company. Our employees told us that we’ve done a good job at highlighting the Our Way values – they know each one and have seen them demonstrated. They also told us that there were a few areas where we could improve. Some definitions that we could clarify and at least one value that they’d like to see more examples of on a regular basis. This feedback has helped us fine-tune our strategy and will guide our next steps of sharing ‘Our Way’ with our people.
A version of this blog post originally appeared on the Ceridian HCM Blog.