Values create a strong " employer brand" that can make your company more attractive in a tight labor market, says Stephen Parker, a regional vice president for Blessing/White in Chicago.

Values can " connect people to the bottom line at a deeper level than a paycheck. Companies need to overcome wide levels of apathy, cynicism, almost anger," Parker says. The consulting firm has developed " V-Business," a program to link corporate and individual values to productivity and retention.

" Having organizational values is a powerful way for a company to describe itself. Just in the description it makes itself more attractive. Individuals are looking for more meaning out of work," so when they have a choice they will go somewhere where they think their individual values will be aligned with corporate values on a daily basis.

But you have to follow through, Parker emphasizes. " So many companies just have a [ values] statement on the wall. Within days new employees discover it doesn' t mean anything. It has a negative impact."

Organizational values can' t be HR driven, Parker says. " Executive sponsorship is one of the pillars. The second is to make sure the values drive the business strategy. The third pillar is communicating to managers and individuals what it means and how to implement it."

Recognizing strong individual values helps retain good people, according to Parker. " It can' t be a money game. Most individuals want more but it' s difficult for organizations to identify what they want. The power of using individual values is in helping individuals clarify what drives them and how that manifests itself in maintaining profitability."

It' s almost a negotiation, Parker says. " If I get more feedback from my manager I will be more motivated, for example. It' s small things. Most people are not that clear of what really drives them."

HR' s role is to provides the tools and techniques that educate people and gives them ways to get that information.

" That' s what makes the difference. That' s why people want to work for a company like Hewlett Packard - it stands for something," Parker says. " Employees are quick to get a sense of how to behave, they feel more grounded."

Key ' V-Business' Findings:

  • Values support vision, strategy, corporate change and crisis management.
  • CEOs are the stewards of company values.
  • Values provide a framework for individual decision-making at every level of an organization from the cubicle to the boardroom.

Copyright © Kennedy Information, LLC, 800-521-0007. All Rights Reserved, Reproduction prohibited by law.