Motivating employees to go above and beyond their core roles is one of the most widely recognised challenges we face in business today – particularly as a staggering 70% of employees are disengaged at work.

Employee engagement has direct links to increased productivity and improved organisational performance. However, employees are now no longer incentivized by financial remuneration alone. For the Millennial generation in particular, Gallup argues, “compensation is important and must be fair, but it’s no longer the driver […] work must have meaning.”

The numbers speak for themselves; companies with a higher sense of purpose outperform others by as much as 400%, according to research conducted by Jim Stengel.

Instilling this sense of purpose begins with the very foundation of who we are as a business. However, too many organisations continue to churn out mandatory lists of generic values that at best, employees ignore – and at worst, actively dislike.

How can you build powerful values that your employees will actually like – and live?

  1. Start at the top

Establishing values requires management sponsors. What’s more, values should be considered as a long-term strategy – not a short-term “ticked that box” task.

Build a business case and map out stakeholders who can help shape and drive your company values. With board-level support, they are more likely to be successfully communicated and integrated into your business.

  1. Get employees involved

Engaging employees with the process of building your values can dramatically increase acceptance, uptake and resulting ‘ROI’.

Facilitate bottom-up communication from your employees to gain their input. Use surveys, focus groups and roundtable sessions to gain grass-roots insights and ensure employee opinions are heard and validated.

  1. Align values with who you are

Too many company value statements fall into the trap of either being too generic, or including aspirational buzzwords because management feel they ‘should’.

If your business doesn’t have a true passion for going green or championing local causes, that’s really OK. Your values should align with who you are and boast integrity to that effect. Qualify what those values mean in the context of YOUR organisation. Ensure they are actionable and coherent.

  1. Communicate, launch, live

Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Once your values are established, create a buzz around them with a clear internal communication strategy.

Ensure your values are visible to all employees, and officially launched. Then, ensure employees live and breathe them by integrating them into your day-to-day culture. Embed them into on-boarding practices, and recognize or reward employees who exemplify them.