Are External Forces Changing Organizational Values

I want to share with you this high-level thought. I don’t know that I have all of the answers here, but I think as business professionals, there might come a time when we’re asked to weigh in on the concept.

I was at a conference earlier this year where there were several conversations about organizational vision, mission, and values. That totally makes sense because it aligns with what organizations are thinking about. But the discussion was different. It was focused on organizations redefining their vision, mission, and values based on external factors.

Regardless of your political ideology, I’d like to think we can all agree that there’s a lot of change going on. Those changes impact our employees. Just because an organization isn’t legally obligated to provide something doesn’t mean they couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wouldn’t. Many organizations realize that the key to attracting and retaining talent is offering more than what the government requires.

But I sensed from this year’s discussion at the conference that the conversation is getting kicked up a notch. We’re not simply talking about pay, benefits, and perks. Organizational values are changing. The reasons vary – maybe it’s because employees are asking senior management to support a particular cause. Or maybe the organization realizes that their customers are passionate about a taking a stand. It could also be because the community or the government is unwilling or unable to provide support. And organizations feel it’s their obligation to do so.

Changing organizational values doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not as easy as simply making the statement, “We believe …” Organizational values align with the vision and mission. They should be embraced at every level. Organizational values are a part of recruiting, onboarding, training, promotions, etc.

Now, it’s possible that what’s taking place is the organization is taking a position about something which is either being misinterpreted as a change in organizational values OR will eventually become a change in organizational values. Either way, communication needs to take place so employees understand the company’s actions.

One area where organizational values have a huge impact is corporate social responsibility (CSR). According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), corporate social responsibility falls under the competency model for human resources professionals. That means that HR needs to be aware of this trend, and be prepared to have an opinion about it. It might be beneficial to start thinking about what your answer will be if you get asked the question.

Organizations are still testing the waters where this is concerned. Sometimes their actions are perceived as positive and other times considered woefully inadequate. But make no mistake, the conversations are happening and organizations have to figure out their involvement.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while reading, questioning and thinking.