4 Reasons Values are More Important Today than Ever

March 9th, 2020

People used to assume they should leave their personal values at the door when they showed up for work. They punched the clock or sat down at their typewriters, and didn't expect to speak out about problems or offer their opinions about issues outside of their immediate control. Even if they had wanted to, the organization they worked for most likely would not have listened. That approach to work is disappearing.

Today, we increasingly expect to be able to bring our whole selves to work, and the organizations we work for are creating the opportunities for us to speak up when we see something wrong (in some cases, they’re even insisting that we do so).

Here are four factors that are helping to accelerate this change, taken from the Voice, Values, and HR Program, which launches in the Josh Bersin Academy on March 11:

  • The Transparency Revolution: As recently as a decade ago, leadership at an organization could feel reasonably safe saying one thing and doing another. With strong controls on information leaks and a good PR machine, organizations believed they could weather almost any crisis. The age of social media has destroyed that paradigm. Today, nearly everything is out in the open. Every employee, and every customer, has the ability to broadcast their disapproval.

  • The Speed and Scope of Consequences: A slow-moving, locally contained crisis is a thing of the past. The speed of information and the interconnectedness of the modern world means that a small problem in a local market can become a huge problem on a global scale. Old-fashioned approaches to crisis management are increasingly ineffective and the potential costs of ignoring a small crisis can be huge.

  • The "Don't Be Evil" Generation: Perhaps more than any generation before, millennials and their Gen Z colleagues place a high value on doing work that aligns with their personal values. To recruit and retain the best and brightest, employers must talk about creating social value, and clearly demonstrate how the day-to-day work is linked to that broader purpose.

  • The Demand for Leaders at All Levels: There's no way to manage the speed and complexity of modern business using the old top-down, centrally controlled model. That means that organizations need to empower less experienced and sometimes “informal” leaders with real authority and responsibility. And not surprisingly, one of the essential skills required of those leaders is knowing what their values are and how to give voice to them.

To learn more about the significance of values in the modern workplace, and to brush up on your ability to voice your values, enroll in the Voice, Values, and HR Program—created in partnership with Mary Gentile, Director of Giving Voice to Values. If you’re not a member yet, join the Josh Bersin Academy today.