December 6, 2021

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Aligning Individual and Organisational Values

How employees’ personal values fit within their organisation.

All types of workers join their organizations as people first, with their individual outlooks and values. These values are the core beliefs that motivate them to act. The role of organisational values is also important. GoodAnd Bad, looms ever larger as firms PromoteTheir corporate beliefs. What happens when fighting against climate change, for example, is important to a person’s sense of self? An individual who works for an organization that does not have an ecological commitment would be a problem.

Management research has clearly shown these tensions between individual and organizational values. For example, close alignment between individuals’ values and those of their organisations leads to a number of Positive organisational outcomesThis includes a decrease in staff turnover. Research also shows that reflecting on your personal values in an organizational context can increase self-integrity. If individuals feel threatened by their identity because of negative stereotypes about their demographic, values reflection can help them to overcome self-doubt. They should do their best to be successful.

What happens to your feelings of engagement with the company when you reflect on core personal values? Is it possible for organisations to increase employees’ engagement and sense of connection with the company by giving them a space to reflect on and connect with their own personal values?

We collaborated with a large Middle East services company to study these questions using a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The primary advantage of RCT methodology is that it can establish causality beyond correlations, so that firms have a sense of whether an intervention “works”. We can test whether it works in the field by doing this inside a company. The real world and not in a lab or artificially controlled laboratory (or even in). The classroom. Our StudyThe impact of people confirming their core personal values on workplace engagement was examined. The answer depended on how engaged and closely identified employees were with the firm before affirming.

Values affirmation

All those who are interested in organisational culture must make it a priority to help employees thrive at work. Our focus was to study how employees relate to the firm in terms of values and their impact on employee engagement – or how close the employee feels to the firm. It is difficult to randomly change the values of a company in order to see how employees respond. So, our strategy was instead to vary (randomly) the salience of employees’ individual values, while holding organisational values constant.

Our experiment focused on a values affirmation, which is an intervention designed to bolster individuals’ feelings of integrity. This kind of writing exercise leads individuals to connect more strongly with the values that they find important within the context in which they’ve been affirmed. This affirmation can lead to less self-doubt, and more authentic versions of yourself, as Professor Kinias discovered in ResearchBased on working adults and women MBA students.

Concretely, we presented two groups of employees with a list of values that included family, friends, gratitude, honour, religion/spirituality and environment/sustainability among others. Employees in the control group were asked to choose their two or three most significant values and then explain why they matter to them. Participants in the control group were asked to identify two or three of their least significant values and to explain why they might be important.  

After the groups wrote about values we asked them questions to gauge their attachment to their company. We measured the same attachment a month later. We also collected information about individuals’ levels of stress and employee engagement. Finally, we controlled for factors such as seniority and gender.

Results, like people, vary

Overall, we found that people’s responses to the values affirmation varied. We used factor analysis to identify those who felt strong about themselves, lived their values fully, and were attached. We also found a contrast group, those with a strong sense of self but who weren’t fully aligned with the organisation.

Employees who felt their values were already aligned to the organisation prior to the affirmation felt closer after the affirmation. But those who didn’t feel very close to the firm before the affirmation felt even further apart.

Organisational fit

As more companies place their own values front and centre, there is an opportunity for firms to attract candidates with “like-minded” individual values. If, however, corporate messaging and recruitment efforts aren’t aligned, the signalling of organisational values could backfire.  

In addition, remember that individuals’ values and beliefs influence them in meaningful ways. People come to an organisation with pre-existing ideas, and may not be open for training in corporate culture. They choose organizations based on issues such as a cutthroat pay environmentTo obtain a stable monthly salary, it is recommended that you use the following: Flexibility in the workplaceOther non-monetary benefits. Each of these incentives draws workers with diverse values and beliefs. It is up to the firm to align these values with the firm.

Inauthenticity and misalignment

Problems arise when workers’ individual values and those of their organisations are misaligned. Individual values can’t be left at the door when people come into the office. As Professor Natalia Karelaia of INSEAD has shown, employees can show their values when they come into the office. True selvesIt allows them at work to focus on their strengths and not on how they look.

Every employee is different, with their own priorities and values. It is up for leaders and firms to recognize this. humanityWhen designing policies or programmes. One-size interventions do not fit all. A more authentic workforce is possible when organisations emphasize their own values and encourage people who aren’t to conform to them to those values.

It’s a win-win situation for both academia and businesses

Research-based companies that work with academic scholars can reap huge benefits. Academic research partners are motivated by understanding how interventions work and why. Looking at “why” clarifies the mechanisms that underlie an issue and the conditions that make particular InterventionsIt is essential to design new policies that are efficient. Professor John List explained it at INSEAD conference in 2019, “Data is now the most valuable resource in the world … but much like oil needs a refinery, data also needs a refiner, and that’s where academics come in. They lend expertise, they understand how to think about causality, they understand how to generate new data to make causal claims and to figure out underlying mechanisms.”

We would love to have your company participate in an RCT if you are interested in understanding the mechanisms behind employee and organisational value and how best to leverage them.

Maria Guadalupe He is a Professor in Economics and holds the Goltz Fellowship for Business and Society at INSEAD.

Zoe Kinias is an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD and the Academic Director of INSEAD’s Gender Initiative. She is also the programme director for INSEAD Gender Diversity ProgrammeINSEAD Executive Education Programme Online.

Florian SchlodererHe is the Director of Digital Innovation at INSEAD and a Lecturer.

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