One-third of employees say their employer’s core values do not always line up with theirs, according to a survey of 615 Americans by CO2 Partners, a Minnesota leadership development firm.
The telephone survey was conducted March 7 to 11 by International Communications Research.
Gary Cohen, CO2 Partners president, said this situation has the potential to lead to employees experiencing an internal ethical conflict, which in turn, might be a factor in the high disengagement levels at many workplaces.
“Management often seems to expect employees to ignore their personal values in favor of the ones posted on the wall,” he said.
In regard to the question, “Which of the following best describes your attitude toward your own core values and how you earn a living?” the responses are as follows:
- You know what your core values are and they are consistent with your employer’s: 44 percent
- You know what your core values are, but they are not always consistent with your employer’s: 30 percent
- You are not certain what your core values are, but you never feel uncomfortable working for your employer: 11 percent
- You don’t feel core values have much to do with the work you do: 10 percent
Cohen said organizations must recognize the importance of core values, which can lead to their clarification and improvement where appropriate. Many organizations do not do this, however,
“It is disconcerting that leaders are not spending more time aligning their employee’s values with those of their organization,” he said.
Further, by not addressing this issue, organizations run the risk of reduced productivity, which is nearly guaranteed to have a negative impact on the bottom line.
“When employee values clash with the organization’s operating values, the outcome is ‘work avoidance’ — passive, unproductive behaviors and a silent sabotage of projects and ideas,” Cohen said. “Employees may not be conscious of such behavior, but the covert negative manifestation is the direct result of them being forced to work in misalignment with their core values.
“Clearly, such misalignment can have a significant impact on workforce productivity and employee engagement. If organizations are going to grow talent and commitment, there has to be mutuality when it comes to communication and operating principles. Otherwise, the much-sought-after employee engagement will continue to prove elusive.”
Aligning employees’ and the employer’s core values can greatly benefit individuals in the workplace.
“For the individual employee, understanding one’s values and being able to work in alignment with them can have a huge impact on performance,” he said. “There is a link between core values and emotional commitment. Knowing one’s values will help to sustain a person through periods of anxiety or stress. Working in alignment with one’s values reduces the likelihood of emotional outbursts or unproductive behavior such as gossiping and complaining.”
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