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How to refresh a company’s values

Have you been tasked with refreshing your company’s values? Do you know where to start?

Today I have a guest post for you by Sam Boniface, Internal Communications Manager for NHBC. An ex-journalist, she made the move to the comms world 10 years ago and has since worked in both agency and in-house roles, more recently extending her skill set to include social media management too. Sam says she loves storytelling, finding out about people, and a good cup of tea. Great combination Sam!

If you need to know about communicating company values, this article will guide you through. Sam has kindly shared the work she’s been doing recently and I’ve included links at the end of this post so you can learn more.

I’ll hand you over..

How to refresh a company’s values

NHBC is the leading warranty and insurance provider for UK house-building for new homes. Our purpose is to give homeowners confidence in the construction quality of new homes, and we do this in various ways. However, one thing is very clear – our purpose really matters to the people who work here. Most colleagues, regardless of what role they’re in, are here because they want to help new homebuyers protect what is, arguably, the biggest investment they’ll ever make.

This strong sense of social purpose connects our colleagues in a special way. In fact, 86% of colleagues surveyed in a past cultural audit said it’s our purpose that motivates them in their day-to-day work – so when it came to refreshing our values, we were lucky to be starting from a strong position.

The refresh came about for a variety of reasons. The terms “values” and “behaviours” were being used interchangeably across the business and no one really understood how to apply either to their roles.

Everyone understood what we were here to do, however it wasn’t as clear on how we were meant to do it. Coupled with a new CEO, plus a sharp focus on engagement and people in the business plan, the time was right.

Starting work

In Summer 2018, the Organisational Development (OD) and Internal Communications (IC) team started work with a consultancy called Azzur to create a new set of values that would mean something to people on an individual level, as well as reflect the commercial vision of NHBC.

We started with interactive workshops to get people to thinking about what they wanted it to feel like to work for NHBC. Participants were presented with a range of scenarios to identify the “ideal” outcomes, and a long list of potential values was created from this feedback.

This was presented to our senior leadership team for their input and, from there, we were able to group certain “themes” to create the basis of our values.

We then went through a process of analysing, editing and sharing with workshop participants and our senior leadership team until we arrived on four values:

  • Excellent
  • Connected
  • Human
  • Progressive.

We also had and a set of descriptors underneath to help people apply them in reality.

How to communicate new values

We used our regular comms channels to keep colleagues up-to-date, from the creation of the values through to delivery. We created videos to show the creation process and tell stories from the colleagues involved, and our CEO took the lead on announcing the values – a vital move if we were to get the wider business to buy into them.

First, he held a face-to-face session with around 80 senior managers at our annual Senior Leader’s Conference late last year, followed by a broadcast to all colleagues in January this year. He’s also made a pledge for how he would live the Human and Connected values and has been visibly working to fulfil it.

Since then the OD team has been running sessions with senior managers to equip them with the tools and knowledge they need to successfully embed the values into their own teams. With so many long-servers in the business there was some understandable cynicism towards a new set of values, so it was important to us as a business that our managers were given the opportunity to deliver the values to their teams for themselves, not just because they know their people best, but to show their commitment too.

Centrally, we’ve run features in our employee magazine and placed bright, bold posters and banners around our offices. Our field and home-based teams have been sent branded air fresheners as a visual trigger and we’re supporting our departments with messaging in local comms.

What’s next?

We’ll be revisiting the values at our company Roadshows in May, where the stage will be suitably branded and we’ve launched a dedicated values microsite, which can be accessed via a quick link that’s been deployed to the desktops of all company devices. Going forward, colleagues will be able share their stories to the microsite too, so it becomes living evidence of our values in action.

Values led updates

Our HR procedures have also been updated to be values led, including reward and recognition, talent development and recruitment processes. And as an internal communication team we’ve taken the roll out of the new values as a chance to refresh some of our core communication channels too in line with the branding.

There’s still work to be done and our July 2019 employee engagement survey will give us a good steer what’s working and what we can do differently.

My advice to anyone about to embark on creating new values would be:

  • Engage with your senior leaders as early as possible, because without their backing you’ll never get anywhere
  • Tell your company narrative through your colleagues – there’s nothing so powerful as hearing why Jim still gets up and comes to work with a smile on his face after 30 years of working in the warehouse
  • Play to your strengths. Our values reflect a lot of the good that is already happening in our organisation, we’ve just put it into words
  • And keep it simple. We’ve managed it without dry ice and a catchy theme tune – you can too!

Post author: Sam Boniface. You can find Sam on Instagram @samboncomms and LinkedIn.

Thank you Sam. I hope you found this article, you certainly don’t need dry ice!

Further reading about values via the All Things IC blog:

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First published on the All Things IC blog 28 April 2019.

Comments

  1. David says:

    Great piece Sam. I’m not usually one for gimmicks but the air fresheners for remote staff is genius! Be great to read a follow up article after your employee survey on how well the values have been embedded.

  2. Sam says:

    Thanks David. We were just trying to think of something as a visual trigger really but I’m with you on the gimmicks. Hopefully I can share good news after July!

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