Are You Living By Company Values or Just Sticking Them on a Wall?

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how to avoid a toxic company culture

In traditional workplaces, company values are often overlooked, sometimes rarely remembered, and can carry little weight as a necessary part of organizational culture. Just ask yourself, in regards to your organization, which values can you remember? Would your teams be able to remember them?


And here's the bigger question: do they live and work them?


Find out how your company's core values can play a vital role in the profitability and sustainability of your business: 

The disconnection between company culture and values.

delivering happiness core values For most, the daily behaviors in the workplace create a disconnect between the actual company culture and its ideal values. Maybe your company says it values integrity, but you see your supervisors undercutting other employees or vice versa. Or perhaps your team promotes inclusiveness, but some colleagues are consistently left out or bullied


These occasions of dissonance make it harder to remember what those values are, and they create opportunities for influential and toxic employees to promote a negative culture that fosters distrust, fear, and as we have seen in the news: harassment.


A Harvard Business School study of more than 60,000 employees found that quickly letting go of and avoiding a toxic hires can deliver a

$12,500 in cost savings per avoidance.


Negative behaviors can occur in all organizations, but a company's dedication to maintaining a workforce rooted in these values is the deciding factor on how impactful these actions will be. 


Protect your ideal culture from negative contributors.

A company should hold their values dear as much as an individual would safeguard their personal values. In essence, personal values help us define the behaviors that make us up as individuals. 


If someone told you what their values were but stopped behaving in a way to support them, wouldn't you question their credibilityThe same goes for businesses. As values become less credible and less practiced, eventually the organization begins to passively support negative behaviors that undermine the values they sought to protect.


When we hire candidates and retain personnel who may not drive our values, we are affecting the culture, engagement, and ultimately the bottom line of the business. 

Download our Why Culture Matters Worksheet to learn more. 


If you are unsure of how extensively these bad behaviors can affect an organization, examine how Papa John's 'bro-culture' took hold of the company or look at the classic case of Enron Corporation and how it fell from being “America’s Most Innovative Company”  because of its risky and unrestrained company culture


From C-level executives to entry-level workers, your firm's values are nothing if not credible and respected by all levels. Having structures and dedication to hiring and firing based on these values helps to ensure that a growing workforce can sustain your culture


Create accountability in your hiring structures.

jenn lim delivering happiness panel discussion

Some companies, most famously Zappos and Amazon, have created Pay to Quit programs that give new hires a financial benefit for quitting if they discover that they aren't happy with the job or culture. By no means are these companies pressuring new personnel to leave their jobs, but they give them an opportunity to evaluate the worth of staying with a company or job that they don't align with.


For B2C establishments like Zappos and Amazon, high expectations of WOW customer service can only be met by engaged and dedicated employees. Pay to Quit programs are not the best fit for everyone, but they are an example of a structure dedicated to protecting culture even after the hiring phase. In the long run, it is more financially sound and healthier to have team members who can grow and support your culture [it can produce up to a $5300 cost-savings]!

How to create stronger focus on values for your company:

jenn lim delivering happiness make happy work keynote1) Start examining the state of your core values and culture. Look at your values first and determine if they are right for the culture that you want to create.
2) After finalizing your values, determine what behaviors do and do not support them. Defining behaviors gives your organization something to point to and empowers specific actions from employees.


It also gives your human resources department or recruiters a better frame of reference for what candidates to look for and what observations can lead to the letting go of an employee. 


Making your company's core values a vital part of your workplace pays offWhen your institution's values come alive through everyday actions, your corporate culture will dissolve any opposing dynamics and practices. Instead of growing long-term tensions and opportunities for offensive behavior, your employees are empowered to protect one another, promote a positive culture, and be engaged on their teams and in their roles. 


What can a culture based on core values do for your organization?

See the evidence here: 



About the Author

Briana Krueger

Bri is the Impact Storyteller on the Delivering Happiness team. Working previously as a freelancer, her goal has always been to work with passionate people who are focused on helping individuals and businesses find their purpose. As part of DH, she now gets to accomplish that every day. Bri resides in Arizona and is lucky enough to enjoy the sun all year round.


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