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The Importance of Values in the Workplace
Values are meant to reflect what is important to us in life. Our values represent our personal guiding principles or life goals, guiding our behavior in all aspects of life, including our home life, our work like, and our social life. The importance of values lies in their purpose, which is, in short, to guide our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
What Are Values?
While we are not always aware of our own values, knowing what values are can actually help you make better decisions that benefit you and others in the long run. This could mean taking a job that has clearer opportunities for variety, change, and spontaneity, or a job that has clearer opportunities for security and tenure.
Values, at their core, are ordered by priority. For example, someone may value freedom over comfort, and comfort over equality. This hierarchy of importance translates to the belief that, if necessary, one thing (equality) should be sacrificed for another (comfort), and then another (comfort) for another (freedom).
Where Do Values Come From?
An important thing to note is that values cannot exist in isolation from society. Essentially, every value we think of can be referred to as a ‘goodness’ that exists in our minds, which in turn, exists as a sociometer construct that guides both collective and individual action. While individuals may perceive themselves to be following their own, personal values, they always arise from a social or biological context.
Values can be formed biologically, determined by our human needs, wants, and desires, and following our birth, they are formed from particular social groups, whose core values are determined by its purpose. Some examples include:
- Possible Core Values: Courage, loyalty, and honesty.
- Purpose: Survival and staying together.
- Possible Core Values: Discipline, mental toughness, and competitiveness.
- Purpose: To train and win.
- Possible Core Values: Popularity, emotional intelligence, and sociability.
- Purpose: Develop social skills.
- Possible Core Values: Wit, knowledgeability, and rationality.
- Purpose: To debate and share knowledge.
- Possible Core Values: Innovation, perseverance, and assertiveness.
- Purpose: To be successful and earn a profit.
Importance of Values in the Workplace
Values are important because they guide our beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. If you continuously compromise your values in your decision-making, the detriments to your own morale are undeniable. Recognizing, understanding, and staying loyal to your values is therefore one of the most important efforts any human being can take, and is equally as important when it comes to the workplace.
Here is a list of reasons outlining the specific importance of values in the workplace:
1. Values help you to gain self-respect.
Sticking to your values and choosing not to compromise them for demands is a guaranteed way to regain self-respect. For example, if you value punctuality, communicate this to your coworkers. If you feel you are being underappreciated or neglected by your superiors, speak up.
If you do not respect yourself by staying true to what you believe is morally sound, and what falls in line with your values, there is no reason for anyone else to respect you either. Communicating your values not only improves your relationships and happiness with others but builds self-respect.
2. Values help you be clear about your wants.
Personal values don’t only serve an important function in your life. They can be especially useful in the workplace as well, informing your job searches or career decision making.
In order to identify your personal work values, you should aim to sort values from most important to least important. These could include recognition, achievement, independence, support, working conditions, justice, and so on. By having a clear sense of which values are important to your work efforts, you will be able to identify the companies or industries that have methods and goals most conducive to your personal values.
The crux of this is in understanding which specific values are of utmost importance to us, in order to avoid compromising them in any way in our work life. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what your values are, you will have a lot of difficulties figuring out what it is you are looking for to be satisfied and happy at work.
3. Values help you in decision-making.
The modern job market can make anyone feel like they have all the choices in the world, but with that opportunity overload, there comes the feeling that we have ‘forgotten’ how to make a good decision. There will always be alternatives, always different opportunities and paths you can take. Having a clear sense of what your values are can help you to navigate those options, eventually drawing out the ideal choice.
For example, if you have reached your maximum position for growth and advancement in the company you work for, what steps do you take? Are you meant to stay and compromise your desire for more stimulation for job security, or do you value stimulation more than security, and start looking for a new job where you can further develop?
Realizing and identifying our values are of utmost importance because when we understand them, we are able not only to communicate them when changes need to be made, but we can also draw on them when we decide to change paths if they are not being met.
4. Values help you enjoy your life.
Values are the ethical goal statements that drive our behavior, and while some may change over time, our core values remain intact from the moment they are conceived. Your personal values are directly connected to your contemplating conscience. When something spurs you to behave against your values, your conscience raises an objection and persists until it cannot be ignored without sacrificing your happiness.
Hanging on to a job or a position because of its potential you can see in it, sacrificing your own contentedness and value satisfaction in your work is not a healthy choice to make. There will always be a positive correlation between our values and job satisfaction. Seeking out a common denominator between your value system and your employer will allow you to reach fulfillment in your experience at work.
5. Values keep you motivated, focused, and engaged.
When you’re working for a company with whom you disagree with over their product, process, or mission, your productivity suffers. Living in accordance with values keeps us motivated and happy in all areas of our lives, including the workplace. Working towards a goal we don’t strongly believe in can leave us lagging in our efforts, losing motivation much faster than if we were to truly want to strive for the goal in question.
Final Thoughts on the Importance of Values
Understanding that others can have different values from your own is the crux of better understanding others altogether. Values can help us to predict each other’s choices, avoiding misunderstandings, frustration, and distrust. Understanding that other people prioritize a different set of values that guide their behaviour will help you to better understand that while their choices may differ from yours, they are right for them.
Our values inform us through, words, and actions. They help us to grow and develop, creating the future we want to experience, both for ourselves and for others. Clarity about your values can help create a strong life foundation, providing you a basis for decision-making and setting you up for happiness in both life and work.