Almost all companies say they want to improve employee engagement at their companies—as they should. A highly engaged workforce will be 50% more productive.

But, how does an organization make its employees happier and more involved?

Research has proven that when a company creates a strong culture by focusing on core values, employee engagement rises.

Core values are simple action statements that express the business attributes leaders believe will lead to company success. They are the guiding principles of decision-making for companies.

Core values work because employees are more likely to be engaged if the culture around them aligns with their own drivers and values. Culture sets the foundation for employee engagement.

Here’s some thinking on the issue:

Zappos is another, high-profile example of an American company that’s achieved success in this way. They have 10 core values that create the Zappos culture—“Create Fun And A Little Weirdness” is one—and they won’t hire people who don’t share these values.

But most businesses are full of actively disengaged employees. In the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates the cost of disengaged workers to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity.

What actions do leaders need to take to improve employee engagement?

First let’s talk about why leaders need to support and live their company values.

  • Research by APCO INSIGHT found that employees who believe their leaders share their core values are much more committed to their employers.
  • Fewer than half of nearly 30,000 respondents rated their immediate and senior leaders as effective, yet organizations with effective leadership have more than twice the number of engaged employees.

Here are some things leaders can do to “live” their company values:

  1. Communicate the core values, with examples, to your employees. And communicate them often.
  2. Make an emotional connection between each core value and all employees.
  3. Post the values throughout the company.
  4. Show unwavering belief in the organizational values.
  5. Connect values directly with each employee.
  6. Place more emphasis on employee development.
  7. Recognize employees for living out the core company values.
  8. Punish employees who violate any of the core values.

Want to learn about how Zappos leadership developed their core values?  Read The Zappos Experience, a book by Joseph A. Michelli.

On a scale of 1-10, how well does your company live its core values? 

Photo Credit: Flickr user Robert Scoble