Core values impact the image and operations of a business. Simply defined, core values comprise a set of ethical and professional issues held dear by a company. Core values commonly include concerns such as tolerance, diversity, fairness, environmental awareness, sound business practices and employee equality. Claiming such values and maintaining a workplace in which these values actually live entail two very different things. Myriad ways to promote fair businesses practices exist, from employee training and team building to corporate culture.
Employee training programs present the perfect opportunity to begin inundating the workplace with core values. With each new employee, a new chance to promote the core values of the company arises. Successful training programs of this nature create a core of employees who not only understand but also adhere to the core values of the work place. If a set of core values is implemented after the hiring of employees, these employees can be re-trained under the banner of “professional development” so as to not give the impression that they require additional training and, thus, the implication that their work performances are subpar.
Team building promotes core values in a collective manner. Team building activities entail games, puzzles, scavenger hunts and other educational or team-oriented activities designed to create a stronger personal bond between co-workers. Choosing team-building activities that reflect the core values of the work place, such as diversity, tolerance or fair business practices, reiterates values while helping employees internalize them. The collective promotion of core values creates a culture in which each individual feels as though they must tow the line, because such situations emphasize the importance of the collective over the individual and each individual’s role in maintaining the success of the collective.
In his book “Ethics in the Workplace: Tools and Tactics for Organizational Transformation,” author Craig Edward Johnson writes of the importance of workplace culture in the promotion of core values. Consider, for instance, training programs. If a training program addresses core values in a way that does not reflect those values, trainees cannot be expected to adhere to workplace values. As Johnson writes, the key aspects of values promotion come from the top of the workplace chain; to be blunt, the behavior of the plebeian class reflects the culture the ruling class creates. To promote core values, encourage employees to challenge directives that deviate from core values and the expression of moral and ethical opinions and debate.
Ethics Code and Program
Espousing certain core values does not equate promoting and encouraging them. A key step in the promotion of core values in the workplace entails the creation of a company ethics code and program. The United States government requires public companies to maintain ethics codes, which comprise a written document outlining the core values of the company. An ethics program takes the words of the code and turns them into action. Ethics programs include training, team building, the facilitation of communication between employees and results orientation. Results orientation constitutes a program that rewards the achievement or fulfillment of core values, rather than punishing the non-fulfillment of them.