This is How Your Core Values Might Be Contributing to Disengaged Employees

When a company’s espoused values are at odds with its culture, it creates friction for employees.

Jessica Donahue, PHR

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Your Core Values Might Be Contributing to Disengaged Employees
Photo by Damir Kopezhanov on Unsplash

Most of us have worked for a company that touted a series of core values at one point or another. "They're not just words on the wall," the leaders of that company will tell you when you come in for your interview. "We live our values every day. We put them at the forefront of everything we do."

And, sometimes, this is true.

But when a company's espoused values are posted on conference room walls or referenced in town hall meetings without a genuine commitment to putting those values into action, this creates friction for us as employees.

fric·tion: conflict or animosity caused by a clash of wills, temperaments, or opinions.

In the beginning, we want to live up to the aspirational words on the wall. But if we look at those around us and see their behavior deviating from these values without consequence, we become confused.

That confusion eventually gives way to frustration driven by the hypocrisy of it all before we ultimately disengage from the organization entirely.

If leadership is lucky, we'll leave when we reach this level of disengagement and before we become "actively disengaged."

According to Gallup, "actively disengaged" employees aren't just unhappy at work. "They are resentful that their needs aren't being met and are acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish."

This level of dissonance between what we say we care about and what our actions convey is especially demoralizing when the people engaging in this kind of behavior, or tolerating it from others, are the company's so-called "leaders."

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Jessica Donahue, PHR

Fractional HR & People Ops for Startups & Early Stage Companies