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Walk the talk: Why company values matter

Updated: 14 Apr 2016

Top executives need to embody their values and ‘walk the talk’ if they are to attract and retain suitable talent, warns recruiting experts Hays in China.


“When job searching, most of us look for that elusive ‘fit’ – an organisation where we think we can thrive, where we are aligned to the way of doing business, and where we feel comfortable,” says Simon Lance, Regional Director of Hays in China.  


“More candidates ask us not just about a brand and what it does, but how they do it. Increasingly, the real values of a business are important to job seekers.


“That’s why businesses need to promote clear values – they explain to potential employees what an organisation is all about, and remind current staff of the preferred way of achieving outcomes within that culture.


“But when they are just hollow words, they can undermine a business and its brand,” he said.


The issue is explored in the latest Hays Journal, the recruiter’s bi-annual magazine on the world of HR and recruitment.


According to Hays, whether they are painted on the wall in the corporate lobby or lying deep within a family business, most organisations have a set of values. They serve as guidance for every person, operation and activity within a business.


“Top executives need to embody their values and ‘walk the talk’,” says Simon. “Given global events of the past few years, potential employees – as well as consumers – are more discerning than ever about business ethics and social responsibility.


“Think of the banking and financial services sector for example. These two industries have fallen under the sharpest scrutiny given the divide in certain cases between business values and actual behaviour.


“Of course, the problem of words without meaning has been an issue in other sectors too – the health, food, sports, media and energy sectors have all witnessed embarrassing and destructive falls from grace.


“That’s why it’s so important that all levels of the organisation wear their core business values on their sleeve.”


Advice to employers:

  • Base your values on truth;
  • Clearly articulate and bring your values into the whole organisation;
  • Actions speak louder than words – ‘walk the talk’;
  • Make sure your employees can not only identify your organisation’s values but use them to guide their decision-making;
  • Make sure all touch points with potential candidates – from the recruitment process to orientation and induction – consistently promote your values;
  • Remember, if your employees aren’t buying in, you are not just losing the productivity of an engaged workforce, you’re actively damaging the organisation by generating cynicism around its purpose.


Advice to job seekers:

  • Look for an organisation whose values you agree and identify with;
  • Make sure you will be happy working in a business environment with the stated values;
  • Then make sure those values are articulated, demonstrated by leaders and understood by the business;
  • Research online, including social media, for employee and customer feedback– do comments suggest the business lives its values?


Finally, Hays note that values can do far more than just attract talent. “Well-led and well-promoted values will create a productive and rewarding environment,” says Simon. “This will bind talented individuals to a single purpose, lowering the risks of unethical behaviour and producing higher-quality outputs that yield a stronger customer brand. It is the ultimate value-add.”


To access the Hays Journal please visit:


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.


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About Hays

Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.


Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing.


Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company with more than 7,840 staff operating from 239 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms.


Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.