Identify shared values for your small business

How to work with your employees to define your workplace values.

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Overview

How this helps your business

A shared set of organisational values is the first step in creating a positive, respectful workplace culture, and all the benefits that go along with that – both to employee wellbeing and to the business.

By working with your employees to develop these, you can make sure everybody is on the same page and believes in what you're doing. When people get to have their say, they care more about the outcome and are committed to following through.

Key stats and facts

The most successful workplaces are those in which everyone works well together to create a positive work environment.

Victorian Public Sector Commission, 2015

Step 1

Identify values with your staff

A values statement explains what you believe in, what you think is important, and how people in the workplace treat one another, customers and suppliers.

A values statement:

  • gives long-term direction, priorities and goals
  • creates a shared sense of purpose and identity
  • shows people (both staff and outsiders) what your organisation is about

Your values statement will mean much more to employees if they have a chance to have their say on it.

Get some input from your employees (e.g. through team meetings, one-on-one meetings, health and safety representatives), to get them involved in creating it.

Look at the example below to get a sense of what your values statement could look like.

Example values statement

A values statement is a 1-page document listing your workplace values and what they mean to you. This is an example of what it may look like. The values will obviously be different depending on what your organisation is all about, but here is a great start:

Our values are what drives our success and wellbeing. They guide how we act every day, as well as our larger business decisions.

  • Respect: We show courtesy towards each other in all our interactions.
  • Inclusiveness: Diversity and equality is valued among our community. We support and encourage each other's knowledge, skills and growth.
  • Collaboration: We work cooperatively together. We embrace teamwork and a sense of community.
  • Communication: We our honest and transparent with our employees, our customers, and with each other.

Step 2

Describe behaviours

To help your employees understand what your values mean, describe what actions go along with them.

You can use your chosen behaviours to recognise and reward appropriate behaviours, and to address inappropriate behaviours.

Look at the example to get a sense of what behaviours could look like.

Once you have your values and behaviours written up, consider putting them on posters around the workplace for everyone to see.

Values and Behaviours example

Respect

  • We show consideration and are polite to one another.
  • We celebrate each other’s strengths and differences.
  • We prevent injuries and incidents in the workplace by calling out any risks.

Inclusiveness

  • We do not make assumptions about people's skills based on their diverse background.
  • We support and encourage one another’s knowledge, skills and backgrounds.
  • We consider each other's unique needs in everyday practice.

Collaboration

  • We listen to the concerns of our team members.
  • We work together to reach our goals.
  • We discuss ways in which we can work better as a team.

Communication

  • We are open to receiving and giving constructive feedback.
  • We discuss issues immediately with one another.
  • We are transparent in our communications internally and externally.

Step 3

Get commitment

Holding a workshop with your team gets everyone involved and should be an informal and fun process. Working together as small groups using butcher's paper, post-it notes or any writing tools you have on hand will get your staff feeling creative, engaged and participating in the activity.

This workshops's aim is to:

  • cement your new values statement in people's minds
  • get employees and teams to care about the values (because they've been part of developing them)
  • start discussing what to do if people are acting inconsistently with your values

The questions below can be used to start a discussion during the workshop. You'll need to adjust these to suit your workplace.

Questions for starting a conversation about your values and workplace behaviours:

  • How can we apply our values in day-to-day work?
  • What do the values mean for me as an individual?
  • What do the values mean for us as a team?
  • Are any of the values extra challenging for us? Why? What can we do about that?
  • How can we make sure that new team members understand and apply the values?
  • How can we ensure that new team members understand the acceptable behaviours and do them?
  • How can we encourage each other to act in this way?
  • Is everyone clear about what is expected of them as an individual and as a team member to help achieve these results?
  • What would acting inconsistently with our acceptable behaviours look like? Some examples.
  • What are some things that make it harder to act in ways that match our values?
  • Who is accountable if people act in ways that don't match our values?
  • Is there a process for people to follow if we see people act in ways that don't match our values?
  • What is the best way we can now promote all of this across the workplace? e.g. posters, team meetings, more workshop, an agenda item...

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.