Changing Workplace Culture

We are asked by clients; How can I go about changing workplace culture? In a series of blogs, we are looking at how we can effectively change workplace culture and improve employee engagement to produce a highly-productive and happy workforce. To do this your organisation must first place core values at its foundation. Here’s what we consider essential when considering your organisation’s core values.

Values Need to be Actionable

Integrity, quality, excellence may sound familiar, but they are too vague and don’t necessarily drive behaviour. Your company values should be the backbone of everyday decision-making. Think of company values as a GPS map. Every time an employee comes to a fork in the road, they should be able to call on a core value to help guide their decision and move them in the right direction. Actionable core values always present a trade-off between two good things like speed or perfection.

Some examples of actionable values are:

  • Being accountable/taking responsibility for actions.
  • Making a difference.
  • Focusing on detail.
  • Delivering quality and keeping promises.
  • Going the extra mile for clients and colleagues alike.
  • Being reliable and remaining positive.

7 Plus or Minus 2!

There’s a theory in psychology that most adults can only store between 5-9 items in their short-term memory. In order for employees to understand and remember your Company values, you will need to keep your core values to just 5 to 9 bullet points long. Perhaps create an acronym out of your core values to make them easier to remember.

Don’t Make Values an Afterthought

Core values are sometimes viewed as a box that needs ticking in an organisation’s ethics. If they’re not seen as strategic priority, your organisation isn’t likely to put in the effort to create and communicate actionable values that will drive productive behaviour. By not being deliberate about embedding core values into your Company’s culture, ‘accidental’ values surface and a huge opportunity may be missed or create a toxic culture you don’t want.

Communicating Values

So, posting company values on the office wall isn’t enough any longer (especially if you have a remote workforce). To truly embed core values into your culture, it takes consistent action by finding ways to promote your values in all forms of communication. This may be through company newsletters, emails, etc. If they are seen often enough, everyone will know what they are and what it looks like to live them.

Using Values in Hiring & Onboarding

As company values need to be communicated frequently and consistently. Communicating them when hiring and onboarding new employees is critical. If you’re not promoting these throughout the engagement process, new employees will see that as a sign that core values really aren’t that important to you. Your core values should be marketed to prospective employees, starting with the job advertisement. Finding people who align well with these values will increase the likelihood that you hire the right personality type to join your ‘crew’. When training, refresh employees’ memories of your company’s values with a ‘Culture Code’ or ‘Culture Manifesto’.

Value-based recognition

The best way to make core values a living, breathing part of your organisation’s culture is to create a value-based recognition program. By focusing all your recognition and reward efforts around core values, you are helping employees identify these values. Recognition should no longer be given for just going ‘above and beyond’,; use it to reinforce company values. This can create positive and productive behaviours with a more focused workforce.


Core values are a vital element of your organisation’s culture. Want to do it right? Then quantify which core values you are embracing most and which ones could use some attention. Because in a world where data is king, it’s more important than ever to capture and analyse this type of data to better inform your cultural decisions. Digital recognition and rewards platforms, such IRIS HR Cascade or Reward Gateway, can help track and measure core value data to give you valuable insights. Allowing employees to give each other ‘shout-outs’ when they’re displaying core values is a really positive move. Especially if you’re tagging each shout-out with a value because you can track the tagged data. Using analytics to understand how your core values breakdown over time is really useful. Breaking them down to organisational, team or individual levels is especially useful.

Contact Us

Changing Workplace Culture

If you would like more advice on changing workplace culture then call 01706 565332 or email

Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.

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