Values are more than words: businesses need to practice what they preach

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The importance of company culture and values cannot be underestimated in brand building, both internally and externally. Companies that display human, authentic ideals to their staff and customers are more trusted, gain more buy-in and build a better business. It’s more than just making money – communicating in a genuine way sets a standard you and your team live by. However, while many companies know the right thing to say, very few make sure that these words are mirrored in genuine business practices.

Saying one thing, doing another

The negative impact of not practising the values communicated to staff and customers can be significant. One of the most recent cases has been in developer CD Projekt Red (CDPR) – a brand that stood apart from others in the video game industry but failed to mirror these appealing statements with genuine action. CDPR quickly grew as a role model in the industry with crowd-grabbing phrases like ‘we leave greed to others’ and promises to improve the working environment that many developers struggle under.

However, as time went on, these words were shown to be lacking in substance. The company announced that employees needed to work six-day weeks in the lead up to a product launch in December 2020 which, when released, was incomplete and poor in quality. This was enough evidence to cause investor lawsuits, staff departures and consumer backlash which still has not been resolved to this day. Despite CDPR’s ongoing efforts, consumers and stakeholders are still concerned that these commitments will not be seen through to the end.

Words mean something

It’s not difficult to understand why companies receive a negative response when their words don’t match up to their actions. People trust that the business is being authentic and that these commitments are not just a way to get more sales. Breaking these promises is not just frustrating for consumers, but damages how the company is viewed.

In a time where competition is high, you need to position yourself as more than just a place to offer a product. Sectors like retail have demonstrated this clearly – with footfall on the high street being incredibly low, shops have offered more than just a place to buy clothes. Similarly, banks are adding additional services like financial advice and wellness to their offering while lifestyle brands are seeking more ways to forge a personal relationship with users. When it works, you not only say the right thing but carry it out as well – reaping the benefits of more customers, a stronger brand image and increased loyalty.

Values come from everywhere

So how can you make sure your practices are in line with what you’re saying? Firstly, you need to reflect on what you want to promise and compare it to what is actually achievable. This can be a hard step to take, as you may realise that how you view the business and the harsh reality of what you can accomplish are very different. But in taking this step, you can avoid repeating the mistakes brands like CDPR have made; delivering on things you know you can commit to.

In our case, promoting positive values around online accessibility and digital equality was a foundation understood between all our staff. We realised though that these beliefs could quickly be undone if we didn’t demonstrate them in a practical way. Our own website and communication needed to be up to scratch.

For any company facing a similar challenge, the best advice is to trust in your offering. If you believe your product is good then you and your people should use it. For us, we used our own auditing software to review the content of our website and make sure we could genuinely deliver on our values of accessibility and digital equality. It made us realise that accessibility and online inclusion isn’t a one and done thing. It’s a journey of improvement we will always be on.

Ensuring that we are prioritising online inclusion helps us demonstrate our core beliefs in practice. We developed a plan, trained our team and made sure our website and social media channels are accessible and readable for all users, especially those with disabilities and additional needs. We made the company better by doubling down on our values rather than just letting them be nice words to hear.

This approach has an added benefit as well, allowing you to improve your company’s offering. Using your own product is a huge opportunity to receive honest feedback and ideas on how it can be improved. An open-minded business will welcome this feedback and use it to improve its offering and provide an even better service to the market.

A company’s values are more than just words – they need to be backed up by genuine action. Even if it dispels some of the ideas you have of the business, it will allow the company to remain consistent and authentic to clients and consumers.

Article By: Kerry Alderdice, HR Manager at Texthelp

 

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