| November 2022 |


Do values contribute to attracting and retaining talent in organisations – or is it just fluff?

Does your organisation truly live its values?

WRITTEN BY: Michelle White

In our discussions with clients about skill shortages we inevitably talk about their frustration at unsuccessfully attracting and retaining talent. They feel they cannot compete financially with what is offered by other employers and that “people just jump ship for a few dollars”. Although there is some validity in this statement in certain industries, it is certainly not the case across the board and is often an assumption rather than a factual understanding of what drives individual decision-making to join or leave an organisation.

In our experience working with job seekers and as recruiters, the dominant factor comes down to how they perceive the company values and whether they feel they align with how the organisation expresses what they stand for. Job seekers seek to understand how an organisation has adapted to the last few years where so many of us have re-evaluated what we are doing with our lives, whom we want to surround ourselves with, what we want from our careers and the work-life integration we seek.

Unfortunately, many employers argue their values are clear and visually displayed on the walls of the organisation, discussed during the onboarding process, reference to the values made on the website and advertising campaigns which always conclude with a values statement…. . What else is needed?

Here is the part that is often not clarified…. . How does the organisation “live” their values? No longer does it suffice to talk about values such as “equality”, “inclusion”, “collaboration”, and “innovation”. Organisations are now challenged to prove how they have adapted to the importance of feeling a strong sense of belonging and engagement and how values have been embedded in every aspect of the business. The question is asked how values form the foundation of staff recruitment, retention strategies, professional development, promotion, rewards and recognition and ultimately if individuals feel that what they think, do and contribute genuinely matters.

Once values have been identified, a few suggestions on how to live them:

Start from the beginning – Have a clear recruitment strategy to discuss what values mean in the company. Align your values with potential employees. Look for compatibility between the values of the job seeker and your company values and make it a big part of the decision-making process.

“Values should be proudly displayed and understood by everyone and act as the true north in all decision-making”


Talk to the people – Have regular group discussions about your values and listen to what is working and what needs a re-think. Values are behaviours that impact the culture of the whole organisation and ultimately impact the organisation’s performance. Robust discussions about what you stand for as an organisation and what matters to you is a powerful retention strategy.

Embed values everywhere – The organisation’s values must be reflected in how you respond to each other, how you treat each other, how you support each other and how you listen to and respect each other. Values should be proudly displayed and understood by everyone and act as the true north in all decision-making when it comes to promotions and selection of the leadership team.

Make your value statements part of your lingo – Talk about your values statements in meetings, at social events, with your external stakeholders, discuss how your values bind you as a community and work towards a clear collective corporate vision.

Review often – Be open to change and re-evaluate your values as your organisation grows and changes. Ultimately create an environment where individuals feel safe to express opinions, suggest innovative ideas and genuinely collaborate for the great good.

In conclusion some wisdom from Simon Sinek: “Values are verbs, not nouns. To build the culture we envision, we have to enact our values in how we show up every single day. On both the positive and the negative side, ultimately what you value is what you will have.”