Guide To Finding Value at Work (Definition Plus Value Types)

Updated June 30, 2023

A team meets in an office meeting room. A writing board is seen to the left of them, and the team sits at a large table in front of a wall of windows.

When seeking a career path right for you, consider how well a job matches your values. Sharing core beliefs with your employer may improve productivity and increase your involvement in the workplace culture. Understanding how you can find a job aligning with your morals can help you find the right job for you.

In this article, we discuss values at work, including what they are and their importance, plus we explore three value types and share seven steps to help you identify your values.

Key takeaways:

  • Work values are the ethics and core beliefs that influence how an individual behaves in the workplace, including their actions, habits and routines.

  • These values are important because they can affect a person's ability to make decisions, collaborate as part of a team and maintain positive personal and professional relationships.

  • The three primary types of work values are extrinsic, intrinsic and lifestyle values, which can include characteristics employers seek like dependability, responsibility and adaptability.

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What are work values?

Work values are the combination of priorities, beliefs, ideals, ethics and morals that guide your behavior and decisions in the workplace. Your work values can relate to the impact of your work on yourself and others, how you accomplish your work or your aspirations. You can have work values that connect to your employer's organizational work values related to your ethics and character.

Here are some common work values employers seek from employees:

  • Dependable

  • Genuine

  • Responsible

  • Personable

  • Passionate

  • Positive attitude

  • Confidence

  • Adaptable

  • Competence

  • Reliable

Related: Core Values in the Workplace: 84 Powerful Examples

Why are values at work important?

Your values may affect your professional goals and gratifications. Understanding your values can help you determine what aligns with your ideals. Here are a few additional reasons work values are important:

  • Inform your decision-making abilities: Your work values determine how you decide. Knowing your work values and upholding them can help you learn how to make decisions you feel confident about at work.

  • Impact your team dynamic: Work values can affect coworker relationships. Understanding how your values fit within your team may build a trusting environment and cultivate shared motivations.

  • Contribute to your success: Strong values may make you an ideal candidate for leadership positions and career growth. Exhibiting your work values shows your ability to contribute to your environment and achieve professional success.

  • Influence your personal life: Your relationship with your job can directly affect your contentment and well-being. The values you bring to the workplace can help you decide how much time to devote to and structure your career.

Related: The Importance of Values (Plus Benefits and Tips)

3 types of work values

There are multiple types of values that relate to the workplace. Here are the three major categories of work values:

1. Extrinsic

Extrinsic work values are the conditions of the employment you seek in a job and the benefits you have with an employer. Extrinsic values address company culture, flexibility and compensation. Here are a few extrinsic values examples:

  • Receiving comprehensive health insurance

  • Being paid a high salary

  • Working in a comfortable environment

  • Access to professional development

  • Having a flexible schedule

  • Being able to work from anywhere

  • Gaining considerable time off

  • Earning awards and recognition

  • Securing long-term job stability

Related: Extrinsic Motivation: Definition and Importance in the Workplace

2. Intrinsic

Intrinsic values are attributes you appreciate and seek when carrying out responsibilities at your job. They're directly involved with your routine behavior and choices. Examples of intrinsic values in the workplace include:

  • Completing challenging work

  • Helping others

  • Adapting to change

  • Serving at an environmentally conscious company

  • Demonstrating integrity

  • Pursuing self-improvement

  • Leading and mentoring others

  • Working hard

  • Being dependable

Related: What Is Intrinsic Motivation? Definition and Examples

3. Lifestyle

When considering your work values, it's essential to analyze your lifestyle values. Lifestyle values can affect your decisions when contemplating what you may require to accomplish your goals. Lifestyle values can be intrinsic and extrinsic. Here are a few lifestyle value examples:

  • Saving money for the future

  • Being independent

  • Enjoying hobbies

  • Owning a home

  • Working with family members and friends

  • Living in a city

  • Spending quality time alone

  • Attending events

  • Having a healthy work-life balance

Related: Examples of Core Life Values and How To Determine Yours

Discovering your work values

Knowing your work values is a beneficial tool to find an employer aligning with your values or start establishing them within your career. Here are seven steps for assessing your values and choosing which are most meaningful to you:

1. Generate words describing your ideal lifestyle

Start by envisioning your ideal career and lifestyle. Think about what you want to accomplish and how you want to spend your time. Use your information about your ideal life to determine your fundamental values. Write adjectives and characteristics describing the scenario, focusing on how each idea relates to your career.

Related: 12 Strategies for Brainstorming Effectively

2. Determine aspects you liked in previous roles

Think about past positions and what you appreciated most about working in each role and for each employer. Recall what responsibilities provided you with the best sense of satisfaction. Analyze your priorities in the workplace and determine what values could have influenced your decisions. If you're seeking a new role, consider looking for similar values from your past positions in your new one.

Related: How To Identify Your Career Interests

3. Ask others about your assets

Ask your colleagues about words they might use to describe you and your approach to accomplishing work. The characteristics others see in you can likely connect to your work values.

Gathering feedback about yourself from others you interact with daily can help you determine how your work values fit into a collaborative team environment and how you portray your values already.

Understanding how you show your values in the workplace can help you continue expressing them and using those strategies to implement other values into your workflow.

4. Consider traits you admire in others

The traits you admire in others may reflect the values you have in yourself. Considering the qualities you aspire to incorporate into your life can help you identify the career areas to focus on and grow.

Brainstorm characteristics in your colleagues, managers or mentors you respect and want to embody yourself. You may also consider your friends, family members or celebrities who inspire you and what traits generate your interest in them.

5. Compile a list of words and phrases

Write words and phrases to describe all the values that resonate with you. If you're unsure where to begin with the list, consider researching a list of values and circling the words that mean something to you.

Listing meaningful words and phrases creates a values and ideals word bank for you to reflect on and how they relate to your life. Re-read the list and determine which of the items on the list are most relevant to your life and career.

6. Rank each value

Assign rankings to each value on your list. Use various strategies to rank your values, such as comparing each one in an ascending list or ranking them based on categories. Creating ranks can help you organize your values and help you determine the ones that are most important to you. Here are a few rank categories you may use:

  • Important in the workplace

  • Nice to have in the workplace

  • Not as important in the workplace

Related: Career Values: How To Identify Yours and Cultivate Success as a Professional

7. Consider hypothetical situations

Some individuals may have work values that conflict, making it challenging to determine the most significant. Think about what you might do in a hypothetical situation where you're choosing between two of your top values at work. To help yourself consider your most critical values, create a list and think about the elements within the values critically to differentiate conflicting values.

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Examples of work values

You can have work values relating to all aspects of your position, including your behaviors, your team's actions and the corporate policies. Here are a few examples of each tier of work values:


Personal values are a powerful guide when choosing your career path. Here are a few types of personal values to develop and can affect your career:

  • Usefulness: Feeling useful to others may attract you to service-oriented roles. Valuing your efficiency at work motivates you to help others and volunteer to assist in the workplace.

  • Achievement: Achievement values may have you seeking recognition, awards and prestige with a positive professional reputation. Recognition values can draw you toward fast-paced, competitive, high-profile roles.

  • Compensation: Compensation might be a motivating factor for you. If you value compensation as a priority, you may complete challenging tasks and apply your work ethic more to increase your potential earnings.

  • Freedom: If you're a freedom-oriented individual, you may seek employers who can support your values by providing a high level of autonomy in your position and allowing you to make your own decisions and decide the best way to achieve a goal.

  • Variety: Variety is a desire to have unique experiences to stay interested in your work. Some companies segment responsibilities, while others allow employees to help in several ways and fulfill their need for task variation.

  • Passion: Passion is pursuing a role that excites you. If you desire a position you're passionate about, you may sacrifice other lifestyle values to achieve your goals.

  • Security: Valuing job security and predictability can involve pursuing an essential trade, committing to a stable company, looking for salaried positions and seeking internal advancement and promotions.


The team you're a part of can have collective values embodying your shared goals. Generally, team values may uphold a standard of professionalism and productivity while influencing the team's performance. Shared goals can shape the environment and culture of a workplace. Here are a few examples of team goals:

  • Trust: Trust may empower team members to accomplish complex tasks. Teams valuing trust might be genuine and up-front about their expectations and abilities and rely on and hold each other accountable.

  • Communication: Teams valuing communication can identify coherent channels for team members to use for sharing project updates and asking questions. The team may have a problem-solving mindset emphasizing collaboration and introspection.

  • Loyalty: Loyalty may create a culture of dedication and commitment among colleagues. Employees on teams emphasizing integrity may remain at a company longer and contribute to achieving team goals.

  • Fairness: You can express integrity on a team by providing individuals with equal opportunities for success. They rotate responsibilities, set consistent procedures and consider all ideas and input when deciding.

  • Structure: Team structure is the chain of command within a team. The team assigns authority based on each professional's role on the team and emphasizes organization and compliance.

  • Recognition: Recognition is taking steps to show appreciation for team members performing high-quality work, making feedback become a part of team operations. Valuing esteem can have teams sharing encouragement and praise regularly.


An employer's mission and the policies used to carry out the goals reflect the corporate values. Finding a company embodying values you believe in can be as meaningful as implementing your work values on a personal or team level. Here are a few examples of corporate values:

  • Accountability: Companies taking responsibility for its action and working to be more mindful of its impact is accountability. Corporations valuing accountability are transparent with its employees and customers about taking actionable steps to overcome challenges and implementing practical improvement strategies.

  • Environmental awareness: Many businesses adopt environmentally friendly policies, reflecting is belief in preserving the ecosystem. Environmentally conscious companies may invest in green technology and work to minimize their pollution and carbon footprint.

  • Social responsibility: Individuals may seek potential employers sharing views on social causes. Companies can show their social values by partnering with community groups, making donations and sharing public stances on social issues.

  • Diversity: Companies valuing diversity can implement inclusive hiring practices and take an active role in stopping discrimination within the workplace. Organizations may accept feedback to become more inclusive for employees and clients through their business practices.

  • Preparedness: Employees expect their employer to solve challenges, implement changes and remain prepared for the unexpected. Well-operated businesses with strong oversight show the company values of preparation and security.

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