That difference isn’t merely about making somewhere a better place to work. It is about what ‘better’ means. It is also about how being a place to work that is centred on Values and Culture can reinforce and be fed by stronger financial performance. In my experience, although that wasn’t the primary reason for going down that path, the financial benefit exceeded seven digits. Later on in this post, I go into how that added up.
But it’s not only my experience: there are many studies that highlight this mutually beneficial relationship. One of the most rigorous (though admittedly dry) is MIT’s study into the correlation between financial performance and culture. Their paper, "The Value of Corporate Culture", is heavily laden with statistics. But it’s worth taking the time to read through those stats. They highlight a number of nuances which are important for those who choose to lead with Values and Culture, rather than simply making them a menu item on their corporate website.
At a high level, the broad findings of the paper are that where a firm lives up to its articulated values, it outperforms its control group. So far, so predictable. But interestingly, where a firm articulates values and fails to live up to them, it performs worse than the control group. Meaning you should call out values only if you’re going to live up to them – if you’re not prepared to do that, then better to not call them out at all than to fill some cheap webspace with them, hope that’s going to help, then fail to deliver.
To put it another way, if you’re not likely to live up to a set of values your employees or branding consultants have told you that you need to have, your best strategy is to lead with something other than values, rather than pretending you have them: your business will suffer if your actions don’t support your values.
I won’t dive into that research paper here, though it is well worth a read. Rather, I’m going to share my own experience of the very real reward, both financial and in terms of satisfaction, of being on the board of, and driving a values and culture led work environment. I’ll write in a future post explicitly how we turned those values into the actions and culture that drove these results, and the lessons learned in how to further improve on our experience.
That environment was within Conchango, a very highly regarded consultancy and full services agency that regularly topped the New Media Age rankings in the UK, and was within the top 4 in Europe according to Forrester.