If we don’t care about values, we should at least care about their effects, being people’s behaviour and actions that drive organisational success.
I believe that people interpret the world through their values. Organisations are about people made up of people. They are not mechanical automatons that operate independently for their own gain, they operate based on the will of the people that work in them.
To break it down in a metaphor; I view organisations like computer software: they’re both created to find solutions to market problems that try meet that need with greater efficiency than before. Organisations like software, create platforms to leverage peoples time and skills to achieve solutions and thereby create value for other people. This ultimately translates to how much others are willing to pay for these solutions (market value).
By this logic I see organisations as a collective vision of their people to achieve a goal or solution that has benefit to others (otherwise no market exists to buy into the solution). Organisations therefore are simply a collective of individuals aligning their willpower and actions in a focused direction to achieve a collectively desired outcome of value creation.
Keeping with this cause and effect scenario; in order to offer maximum value to our customers and translate this to greater market value and ultimately profitability, we need to go down to the causal level and look at the individual people in our organisations. More specifically at the question: why would employees deliver their maximal effort and emotional drive to improve overall productivity and value to our business and customers?
The answer: when they care and have an emotional connection to their work and the result of their efforts. What I’m referring to here is the hot topic of employee engagement, which is staggeringly low on a global scale with only 13% of employees actively engaged at work (9% in SA) – Gallup.
Research has shown that increasing employee engagement has a direct link to improving productivity and reducing staffing costs linked to staff turnover (hiring, on-boarding, absenteeism, etc.)
The next best question is what drives employee engagement?
Business has long been focused on external motivational forces like financial pay and job status to leverage greater engagement, which works to the degree that money or status remains the primary motivating factor for all people in the organisation.
Many have seen the flaw in this approach that not everyone is fundamentally driven by financial reward or status in exchange for their efforts. Also external motivational factors can be short lived as opposed to intrinsic motivation or inspiration, which have greater longevity. Employees right now seem reluctant to offer up their value and be fully engaged in their work and therefore are often seen as unproductive or worse, lazy. We’ve often dealt with these people swiftly and over objectively by removing “the problem” from our organisations.
Questions need to be asked here: why are some people unmotivated and unproductive, and further, is there another way to deal with employees like this in a more subjective and human way than simply firing and hiring?
This is what I feel called to help answer. We are entering an era which outlines a new paradigm, one that will need more analysis to understand what drives people to do what they do. Research to date has shown that people’s values affect their behaviour. Our values are the windows we filter the world through and base our decisions on. Values are the underlying cause or lowest common denominator of why people behave the way they do. Furthermore the underlying values of an organisation produce its culture, which influences people’s behaviour and level of engagement within the organisation.
People’s values can therefore be seen as the cause of this employee engagement effect, which again affects productivity. So we’d be well advised to treat this cause as a matter of urgency, to start boosting our company’s productivity and bottom line.