By: bdewar@litha-lethu.com On: March 06, 2018 In: Articles Comments: 0

Organisational values are too often perceived as fluffy, nice ideas that offer no real bottom-line value. However, in today’s increasingly millennial-filled workplaces, this couldn’t be more wrong. According to the Cone Millennial Cause Study, 79% of millennials want to work for a company that cares about a bottom line other than profit, such as social responsibility or sustainability. And 78% believe companies have a responsibility for making a difference in the world[1].

Organisations spend a lot of money articulating values and, in the midst of a crisis, going about changing them, as evidenced recently in both the political and corporate environment. Every employee brings a set of personal values to an organisation once hired. The organisation itself is also an entity that works under certain guiding principles or values. Finding and creating the best fit requires an understanding of the importance of organisational values and personal values of the employees (Coldwell et al, 2008). Value alignment therefore holds a substantial place in the field of organisational development, employee development and corporate culture.

Values have a significant impact on organisational performance, its future prospects in terms of profitability, expansion, and its change management practices (Branson, 2008). Values become evident in organisational practices and thereby create a certain image of the company in the minds of customers and stakeholders. Every employee learns and develops certain values through experiences that impact the decision-making process and job performance. Understanding the personal values of an employee is pivotal to creating a fit between the company and the employee.

With considerable research in areas of HR planning, sourcing and organisational development, the HR function within most organisations is moving beyond the traditional battery of assessment tests towards hiring based on organisational core values in an effort to attain value alignment. The selection of employees based on value alignment means that regardless of the selection tools used, questions that are used to judge a candidate must be derived from the core values of an organisation. This helps in understanding the candidates’ perspective and values in comparison to a particular organisational value. This form of selection provides vital information for the HR function to ensure value alignment between an organisation and employee. Once an employee is on-board, the value trade-off between personal and work-related values becomes evident and may result in either a good fit or lead to stressful outcomes including decreased morale, productivity, and engagement (Henderson, 2003).

Equally, leadership plays a pivotal part in exhibiting and practising organisational values. This requires that the personal values of the leaders be well-aligned with the organisational values (Bass and Avolio, 1993). There have been many cases when the leadership fails in terms of adhering to the corporate values because of poor alignment and this trickles down in an organisation resulting in a negative culture and declining performance (Sullivan, Sullivan, and Buffton, 2001). Another issue is that the values are mere statements or words with little meaning to the organisational members leading to detrimental work practices. A notable example in this regard is of the former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick. There were major flaws in his leadership that led towards a toxic Company culture and eventually a forced resignation.  The question here is not about the competency of the leader, but rather the match between leadership and the organisation. The values or norms indicated on the Company’s official website were a far cry from the actual practice. The Uber employment brand suffered as a result and the company failed to attract top talent.

Companies often come up with core values that look and sound powerful. Values such as integrity, diversity and open communication are common for most companies, but they must be built into the fabric of the organisation and its culture. Otherwise, they are just mere words creating dissonance for the employee. For instance, an employee that strongly supports diversity will be in disarray if the organisation has discriminatory practices despite of supporting diversity in its corporate statements. Actionable value statements will guide the work practices and allow employees to create a better fit within the company.

Litha-Lethu Management Solutions (“Litha-Lethu”) uses inclusive, non-threatening and integrated processes to encourage employees and other stakeholders to work toward strategic goals and a company culture based upon a collective set of institutionalised values. Contact us if you’re looking for realistic, customised, and enduring results. Go to https://litha-lethu.com for more information.

[1] Tiny Pulse


  1. Bass, B.M. and Avolio, B.J., 1993. Transformational leadership and organisational culture. Public administration quarterly, pp.112-121.
  2. Branson, C.M., 2008. Achieving organisational change through values alignment. Journal of Educational Administration, 46(3), pp.376-395.
  3. Coldwell, D.A., Billsberry, J., Van Meurs, N., and Marsh, P.J., 2008. The effects of person–organisation ethical fit on employee attraction and retention: Towards a testable explanatory model. Journal of Business Ethics, 78(4), pp.611-622.
  4. Henderson, M., 2003. Values at work: The invisible threads between people, performance, and profit.
  5. Sullivan, W., Sullivan, R. and Buffton, B., 2001. Aligning individual and organisational values to support change. Journal of Change Management, 2(3), pp.247-254.