HR Blog: Aligning your people strategy with your company values

Whether you have them or not, you’ll probably know what company values are: carefully chosen words or crafted sentences which capture the ethos of your business. They are part of the foundations of your company culture which help guide all staff in their decision making and behaviour, and connect the business with your customer base.

Volkswagen list “Genuine, courageous, customer-orientated, efficient, mindful and together” as theirs. Google has ten statements, such as “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”. Slack has six – with accompanying emojis:

  • ❤ Empathy
  • 💁Courtesy
  • 🌻Thriving
  • 🔨Craftsmanship
  • 🙆Playfulness
  • 🙌Solidarity

It is a serious piece of work to define meaningful company values. When done, they can be a powerful differentiator to you for both attracting and keeping staff, and winning customers. They may need revisiting from time to time but, in the main, creating them is a one-off project.

People strategy, on the other hand, is a much more sustained effort. It goes way beyond the admin and compliance of good HR: to develop and live by a set of practices which inform how you attract, retain and develop your staff so as to best achieve your company’s goals.

We cannot give a masterclass on people strategy in one blog post. However, if you have company values, aligning your people strategy to those is a great way to start.

How you do this will, of course, depend on the nature of your business and your company values. So let’s take a simplistic linear approach to act as a starting point: looking at finding, keeping and developing staff.

Attracting the right employees (values-based recruitment)

As long as your values are true to your business and resonate with a section of the talent pool, this may be the simplest part of aligning your values with your people strategy.

It is a matter of clearly communicating your company values in all the touchpoints that candidates may see, and then ensuring that your recruitment processes reflect the values as candidates progress through them.

Taking Slack’s value of “courtesy” as an example, consider how this could be woven into recruitment processes, say when you reject unsuccessful candidates. Some you may wish never to hear from ever again, but even so the courteous thing to do will be to inform them professionally. Others may have been a near miss, and managing their disappointment courteously may encourage a potentially good employee to reapply the next time a vacancy opens.

By aligning your values with people strategy in this way, it should help you attract candidates who will be a good fit for your organisation and keep them engaged throughout the recruitment process.

Retaining talent

People are at the heart of any organisation. So this is the real bread and butter where your company values should align with your people strategy. Your values will have been chosen because they can help your team achieve your company goals. If staff are to buy in to your values, they need to see that the values hold true.

One interesting way of doing this, evangelised by Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why, is to promote purpose over process. Your values can help you to this. Sure, the technical ways in which things are done are important, but if you can always lead with “Why” they are done it acts as a rallying call to the team. If they are the right employees it will drive engagement – helping them see the bigger picture whilst injecting care and passion into everything they do.

Developing your staff

Developing your staff is a key part of any people strategy. It can create loyalty, improve productivity significantly and help you fill skills gaps more effectively than new hires, who may come at a premium and have to get up to speed with the way you work.

How you develop your staff could be positively and logically influenced by your company values. For instance, if say “technical excellence” was a company value, you may choose to sponsor staff on vocational qualifications that demonstrate their credentials and improve their usefulness.

Alternatively, if like at Slack, “empathy” is a company value, then an emotional intelligence course may be part of your induction process. How could your company values influence your employee development?

Further help

Company values and people strategy are really interesting ways in which you can grow your business. If you would like help developing either, or exploring how they could be aligned as discussed in this blog, please get in touch with your local HR Dept office, and our expert in your area will be happy to help.