Everything you need to know about defining your company’s values
Values are fundamental to success in any organisation – they help to define what’s important, guide decision making, and set the tone for the way employees work together.  

But company values aren’t just important internally – they’re also a key factor in a candidate’s decision to apply for a new role.

Here, two organisational leaders share their advice on how companies can define their values and highlight them in a job ad to attract candidates who are a great fit.

An organisation’s culture and values are key factors in a candidate’s decision to apply for a new role. Two HR and organisational experts share their advice on how companies can define their values and highlight them in a job ad.

What are values?

A company’s values are the fundamental beliefs upon which a business and its behaviour are based. “Values are specific to what an organisation does,” says culture change expert Colin D Ellis. “Values not only guide the way that people behave but also how they will keep their promises to staff, shareholders or the general public.”

Values also set the tone for company culture. “Without an understanding and commitment to the values, the team have no roadmap on how to represent the organisation to their peers, stakeholders and external customers,” says Erin Murray, the senior manager of human resources at the McGrath Foundation.  

The values most candidates are looking for

When looking for a new role, more than half of New Zealanders (63%) believe an organisation’s values are very important.

SEEK research reveals that the values that make candidates more likely to apply for a role are: honesty (45%), compassion (33%), loyalty (27%) and open mindedness (27%). .

While these values have a big impact on candidates, Ellis cautions about blindly copying them into a job ad. “Your values shouldn’t be generic,” he says. “It's important to have values that represent what your organisation truly stands for.”

Defining your company’s values

To start the process of identifying your company’s values, Ellis suggests different staff members meet to talk about the organisation’s core beliefs and what differentiates the business from others. “Then you can write value statements in line with how the business operates,” he says.

Murray agrees that consulting with employees is paramount. “We ask our team to describe our organisation in three words,” Murray says. “From this, we take stock of the words that are coming up regularly.”

Including values in a job ad

By making your company’s values part of a job ad, you immediately let candidates know the core beliefs and principles underlying your organisation’s mission.

For Ellis, being upfront about values in a job ad is best practice. “I'm a big fan of openly stating values in a job ad,” he says. “I would say something like, 'The culture of the organisation is built on the values of honesty, loyalty, efficiency and dependability. Candidates applying for this role need to be able to demonstrate how they have applied these values in other roles and how they'll contribute to them, should they be successful.’”

Once you have your core values, use them to describe the role, organisational culture or benefits. For example, a job ad for an aged care facility with the core values of ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’ may include a description such as:

You will be responsible for helping with all aspects of personal care, such as personal hygiene, washing and assisting with meals, ensuring that dignity and respect are maintained at all times.

By defining your company values and including these fundamental beliefs about your organisation in a job ad, you’re more likely to attract candidates who are a great fit for your business.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually