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How to Align Employees with Company Values

By Betterworks
March 4, 2022
6 minute read

Your company’s mission, vision, and values are the core drivers of business success. These foundational documents articulate what your company is trying to do and what it stands for. But to make the most of these integral elements, companies must learn how to align employees with company values through overarching goals as dictated by your mission, vision, and values.

But creating that sense of alignment can be a challenge on its own. 

How can you make employees feel connected to your mission, vision, and values? Aligning employees across the company’s shared purpose brings them closer to each other and more in tune with the business.

Here’s how to connect employees with your company’s mission, vision, and values.

How Are Mission, Vision, and Values Connected?

We hear the phrase “mission, vision, and values” so often that it can become an empty buzzword, especially for employees. To help employees connect with the company’s mission, vision, and values on a personal level, you first need to explain the differences between them.

Here’s a brief explainer to help you start the conversation with the workforce.

Mission: What You Need to Do

Your company’s mission refers to your long-term business goals. Typically, your mission explains what differentiates your company from others in the same industry. Your company mission is designed to execute your company vision.

Your company mission should distill your business priorities down into a single sentence. That level of focus gives employees a deeper insight into what they need to prioritize to support the company’s mission. 

PayPal’s mission, for example, is “to democratize financial services to ensure that everyone, regardless of background or economic standing, has access to affordable, convenient and secure products and services to take control of their financial lives.”

This statement helps employees clearly understand what their priorities are while differentiating the company from competitors in financial services.

Vision: Where You Want to Go

Your company’s vision lays out what you want to achieve on a larger scale. Your vision can be aspirational and doesn’t need to be specific (that’s what your company mission statement does).

Your vision proposes an ideal future state that your mission directs you to work toward.

Your company vision should inspire and motivate employees to work toward achieving it. To remain engaged, employees need to see how their work every day drives the vision forward.

Returning to PayPal as an example, the company’s vision is “to make the movement and management of money as simple, secure and affordable as possible.” This statement lays out a clear end goal, and the mission explains how employees will bring that goal to life.

Values: What You Believe In

Your values are the blueprint for living your mission and vision in daily behaviors. Values are often interpreted as the company’s code of ethics and, in that role, can guide decision-making across the workforce.

Employees need to know exactly what your company values are and how they translate into actions and behaviors in each role. 

If one of your company values is teamwork, for example, you need to define what that means in practice. Does that mean an employee drops their own work to help a colleague in need? Or that they prioritize their own work so that colleagues in the next stage of the process are set up for success? Your preferred course of action in this scenario is guided by your values, and employees need to know how to apply those values in their decision-making.

When clearly defined, your values can become the shared thread of company culture. Values can align employees wherever they’re located, whether they’re working from home or seeing each other face to face.

Align Employees Across a Shared Purpose

To connect employees to the company mission, vision, and values — and to each other — they need to see how their daily work affects the larger business.

Visualize Your Company Structure

One of the first steps to connecting individual employees with the larger company culture and business priorities is to help them see where they fit on the organizational chart. Employees need to understand the company structure: who they report to, who that person reports to, who their peers at the same level are, and so on.

With a clear line of sight into where they fit in the company structure, it’s easier for employees to see how their role affects business outcomes. Understanding the company hierarchy helps them see where their work fits into the larger whole.

Tools like goal alignment software can help make the org chart more visible and help employees see who is responsible for what across the organization. 

Help Employees See Their Role in the Business

Once employees understand the company structure, it’s easier to see how their work affects their colleagues’ work and drives the business strategy. That line of sight from their daily tasks to the company’s mission, vision, and values are essential for fostering a sense of purpose in the workforce.

When employees understand how their work drives the business forward, they’ll feel more empowered and connected to the business and their colleagues. Managers can help drive this connection home by helping employees recognize their contributions to a final product.

This sense of purpose is especially important in remote work settings, where it can be easy for team members to feel siloed. A stronger sense of purpose can help employees remain engaged in their work.

Teach the Workforce to Think Strategically

With a clear line of sight from their own work to business goals, employees gain a better understanding of their value and what they can offer the company. Implementing objectives and key results (OKRs) can build on that sense of purpose and help employees learn to use their value strategically.

Allow employees to review the company’s overall mission, vision, and values, as well as its short-term business goals. When employees understand where the company wants to go and how business leaders propose to get there at scale, managers and employees can collaborate to find the best strategic use of each employee’s skills and abilities. 

Ground Your Growth in Company Culture

Your company is constantly evolving to meet the demands of a rapidly changing market. Here’s how to make employees feel connected to the company mission, vision, and values during change and uncertainty.

Stay Connected With the Workforce

A lot is changing externally, and your processes will need to evolve internally to keep up. To keep employees grounded during times of change, you need to maintain a strong line of communication with them.

Develop consistent internal communications that keep your mission, vision, and values front and center. Imagine how office phone systems work, that’s how your company’s internal communication should work. Remind employees how to use your values to support decision-making, especially when facing new or uncertain situations.

Remote workers are at an increased risk of disconnecting from the company culture. To accommodate remote employees, be deliberate about communicating frequently. Send regular newsletters (on a weekly or monthly basis, for example) highlighting employees who put the company’s values into action or went the extra mile to drive the mission forward.

Remember that communication goes both ways: Give employees the chance to ask questions and voice opinions through surveys and focus groups. Encourage managers to escalate to HR any questions or concerns regarding the company’s mission, vision, and values. 

Implement Improved Employee Management

Because managers serve as liaisons between employees and the company culture, good managers are essential for helping employees maintain a sense of purpose. Managers are best positioned to keep employees connected to the business strategy and each other.

Train managers to serve as coaches who can help employees learn how to live the company’s mission statement in their daily tasks. Employees need to understand how the mission, vision, and values look in action, and managers can use daily work as a learning tool.

When managers are equipped to support employees and keep their team members grounded in the company’s mission, vision, and values, employee engagement and purpose will rise across the company. 

Embrace Agility and Continuous Improvement

Despite the upheaval around you, your mission, vision, and values themselves shouldn’t change. But how you achieve them or live them in your daily work might.

As you optimize processes, stay grounded in your foundational values. You shouldn’t have to compromise on your core culture to succeed in business. As you implement process changes, experiment with different approaches to see what works the best. Make sure to explain those process changes by using a business process diagram, as it is a great way to present complex information in a more accessible way.

Ask employees for their input in continuously improving your processes, products, or services. When they can combine their understanding of your mission, vision, and values with the knowledge and expertise they bring to the table, employees can help you embrace change while moving your business forward.

Close the Loop on People, Strategy, and Results

Without strong alignment between employees and your company’s mission, vision, and values, it’s easy for employees to feel divorced from the business strategy. Clear statements laying out your company mission, vision, and values will bestow a stronger sense of purpose in daily work. 

When companies learn how to align employees with company values, the better they can see the connection between their work and the business strategy, the better they’ll be able to drive business results.