What research says about the importance of business core values

February 7, 2023
These reports from a variety of research bodies send out a very clear message: values matter.

There is no doubt about it – successful organisations are built around a strong set of core values. Those values are what define you as an organisation, determining your vision, strategy and day-to-day operations. They tell all your key stakeholders – employees, customers and business partners – why you exist and how you do business.

Values count for employees

Employees care about corporate values. Some of them care a lot and will actually decide who they work for and why based on the value proposition and how an organisation measures up to its professed values. A 2018 survey by LinkedIn found that values are the number one priority for employees. Just under two thirds (71%) would take a pay cut to work for a company that has shared values and a mission they believe in and 39% would leave their current job if their employer asked them to do something that conflicted with their own morals or ethics. Almost half (47%) want to work in an environment where they can be themselves and have a positive effect on society (46%).

Culture trumps skills

And they’re not the only ones – managers also attach great importance to values, but more from an organisational perspective. Nine out of 10 managers (91%) polled by human resource company Robert Half say a candidate’s fit with organisational culture is as important or more important than their skills and experience.

Having a strong set of business core values and having employees that share those values and work according to them enables you to have everyone pulling in the same direction. Everyone understands the organisational goals and aspirations and what is needed to achieve them.

Purpose fosters resilience

This is really important for organisational resilience. Resilient organisations know their purpose and keep to that purpose, even during times of turbulence and uncertainty. Employees understand how their input contributes to the overall success of the organisation and feel more compelled to give discretionary effort. This can be a key differentiator between successful and unsuccessful businesses, particularly during a recession.

The organisation What Works Centre for Wellbeing found that organisations where employees report a strong sense of organisational identity were four times more likely to have withstood the negative effects of recession on employee wellbeing than those workplaces with a weak sense of identity. And they were almost four times more likely to have maintained high levels of organisational performance.

Financial success

A lot of customers also care about organisational values. They make purchasing decisions based on a business’s ethical credentials. One British company that scores well on its ethical and environmental stance is the food and beverage brand BrewDog. It helps local charities, it helps developing countries and it shares profits with its workforce. The company’s charitable activities have certainly done nothing to dent its profits. In fact, they have probably contributed to its success because it has a solid reputation as an ethical enterprise. In the 2019 Finance UK 150 Brand Report by the consultancy Brand Finance, BrewDog was named as the UK’s fastest-growing company.

These reports send out a very clear message: values matter. A lot. People want to be proud of where they work. They want to feel that their employer and colleagues share their values, that they belong in the workplace and that their contribution counts. Customers care too, as do many organisations in your supply chain.

But most of all, you, as a business owner, care about the core values of your organisation. They are your values, your vision for your organisation, so why wouldn’t you care about them?

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