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Why company values and culture are so important now, more than ever

By Will Allan

Director and Founder, Hello Monday NZ

We are finding more and more with the businesses we work with, that company values are being mentioned more now than ever before. Businesses are now wanting to integrate their values, not only in marketing the company’s EVP (Employee Value Proposition), but more importantly into standard HR process like recruitment and attracting talent, performance appraisals, coaching conversations, and leadership discussions. This is a big shift from the attitude businesses had around values and culture pre-COVID. The circumstances that we find ourselves under this global pandemic has lent us new perspective to prioritise what is important in life, our well-being, and the way we run our businesses.

Company values have been around for the long time, but how they have been applied and instilled in a business by the leaders has not always been a priority. As an HR practitioner that has always been a source of frustration, but also a lost opportunity to change the culture of a business to become an employer of choice. This is even more relevant now with a candidate full market.

I have always loved working with values-based organisations or organisations that want to transform their business to become more values-based. These organisations have already gained rewards from understanding how much of an impact values have across their business - not only from a culture perspective but also in their levels of productivity and, ultimately, profit.

Values like Trust and Integrity have become emphasised throughout COVID – there is an expectation that an organisation will be mature in upholding these sorts of values in their day to day operations.

COVID has fast tracked a lot of workplace topics and issues that businesses had not prioritised to address as they felt them not important at the time or not relevant. One of the biggest shifts that we have all seen and experienced throughout the world is flexibility around working from home. For years people that are office based have always voiced a desire to work from home or at least have that flexibility. I know from my time as inhouse HR, this was always raised and a point for discussion.

There were always many questions from leadership: How do we manage it? How we make sure everyone is working when they should be? How do we know people are being productive?

To be fair when those discussions were happening, we did not have the technology in place to enable the practice. But on the other hand - many of those attitudes were driven by lack of trust and fear of the unknown. Working from home was only reserved for senior members of the team that were in ‘positions of trust’. Now, that we have all been forced to work from home it has created different dynamics and some of those old views have been dispelled and put to rest. COVID has proven that people can be trusted to work from home remotely with the right technology and workspace set up and it is really only the attitude businesses have to working from home that still needs to be worked on.

How do you become a more values-based organisation? Embrace the change that is COVID and the opportunities that have come with it. Now is the time for organisations to really figure out what type of culture they want to shape - delivering their very best service to their customers while still giving their people the flexibility to balance work and home life. Developing values that support these objectives will create an environment that more effectively achieves business goals and objectives.

Take time to review your company values now to see if they are still fit for the current environment or if they need refreshing or enhancing to help build a culture that your people want to be part of so you are better able to steer the organisation through these unprecedented times.

Will Allan is a qualified HR Practitioner with over 15 years of HR and Recruitment experience. Will has had the privilege to work with some of New Zealand’s largest organisations as an HR professional. Will’s background in HR has been in telecommunications, technology, FMCG, Insurance and Not For Profit. This experience gave Will the desire to create an HR company that helps businesses transform themselves, and their people, to be the best possible version of themselves.

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