How do great companies create long-term success? Not by focusing on the balance sheet, a corporate brand expert says, but by improving people’s lives based on strong, shared values in workplace culture.
“Great companies have an amazing opportunity to provide a lifelong impact on all of the lives they touch,” said Michael Weisman, founder and CEO of The Values Institute, a research and consulting company that stresses the importance of trust and values in corporate culture.
The advertising executive and brand developer has become increasingly passionate about corporate values since the 2008 recession. He’s spent years working with hundreds of companies, advising C-suite executives, and speaking with thousands of employees.
Five key values-based principles
In his experience, values are what makes companies great. They define corporate culture: how they imagine, how they invest their time, and how they spend their money.
“Values create the foundation of every successful organization,” Weisman said. “All the choices we make in life are influenced by what we value most.”
Since the recession, consumers expect more than mere transactions. In a values economy, these qualities stand out, Weisman said:
- Relationships are more important than transactions. Without good relationships, transactions are not sustainable.
- Put purpose before profit. “People don’t mind companies that make profits,” Weisman said. “They mind when they grab for our wallets.”
- Transparency over opaqueness. Great companies value open, honest communication.
- Conviction over compliance. Great companies value doing what’s right over what’s expedient, he said. They follow their heart.
- Advocacy over apathy. Put the needs of others ahead of your own.
Values give purpose, Weisman said. And without purpose, “we simply become economic agents in the pursuit of revenue.”
Values are the gateway to trust, which he calls “the most valuable asset of any company.” Over the long term, having repeat customers and developing meaningful relationships creates trust and brings tangible benefits to an organization.
High-trust organizations create a “rabid community of advocates.” He added: “Trust is earned; it can’t be bought.”
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and culture technology firm that has surveyed nearly 3 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2018. Energage is the research partner for Top Workplaces with NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune. Nominate your company as a Top Workplace here.