Discovering Your Values in the Workplace: Definition, Examples and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 31, 2021 | Published January 5, 2021

Updated March 31, 2021

Published January 5, 2021

When looking for long-term employment, one of the aspects of a job to consider is how well it matches your workplace values. Sharing core values with your employer can improve collaboration and make you feel more involved and appreciated as an employee. Before you can find a job that empowers your values, you first need to understand what your work values are. In this article, we explore the idea of professional and personal values in the workplace and give you the tools to understand what you value most at work.

What are work values?

Work values are the combination of priorities, beliefs, ideals, ethics and morals that drive 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 personal aspirations. You can have work values that connect to your employer's organizational goals and work values related to your individual ethics and character.

Related: 83 Core Value Examples for the Workplace

Why are work values important?

Your work values can have an impact on your professional goals and your personal satisfaction. Understanding your work values can help you determine what aligns with your personal ideals. Work values are important for several reasons:

  • Inform your decision-making abilities. Your work values determine how you make decisions in the workplace, from choosing an employer based on their policies to deciding how to manage conflicting priorities. Knowing your work values and upholding them can help you decide how to make decisions that you feel great about at work.

  • Impact your team dynamic. Work values can impact the relationships you have with your coworkers. Understanding how your values fit in with your team can build a trusting environment and cultivate shared motivations.

  • Contribute to your own success. Strong values are a desirable quality in an employee and can make you ideal for leadership positions and growth in your career. Showing your work values consistently over time demonstrates your ability to contribute to your environment and achieve professional success.

  • Influence your personal life. Your relationship with your job has a direct impact on your personal happiness and well-being. The values you bring to the workplace can help you decide how much time to devote to your career and how you want to structure your professional life.

Types of work values

There are multiple types of values that relate to the workplace. The main categories of work values are:

Extrinsic

Extrinsic work values are the conditions of your employment that you seek when looking for a job. These are the benefits from the agreement you have with your employer. Extrinsic values address company culture, flexibility and compensation. Types of extrinsic work values are:

  • 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

  • Traveling for your job

  • Gaining a large amount of time off

  • Earning awards and recognition

  • Securing long-term job stability

Intrinsic

Your intrinsic values are the attributes that you most appreciate and seek out when carrying out responsibilities at your job. They're directly involved with your day-to-day behavior and choices. Examples of intrinsic values in the workplace include:

  • Completing challenging, interesting work

  • Helping others

  • Adapting to change

  • Working at an environmentally-conscious company

  • Demonstrating integrity

  • Pursuing self-improvement

  • Leading and mentoring others

  • Serving your community

  • Working hard

  • Being dependable

  • Expressing your perspective

  • Impacting your industry

Lifestyle

When thinking about your work values, it's also important to consider your specific lifestyle values. They can impact your decisions when considering what you have to accomplish to achieve certain lifestyle goals. Lifestyle values can be both intrinsic and extrinsic:

  • Saving money for the future

  • Being independent

  • Spending time on hobbies

  • Owning a home

  • Working with family and friends

  • Living in a metropolitan city

  • Having along time

  • Attending events

  • Having a good work-life balance

Examples of work values

You can have work values that relate to all aspects of your position, including your behaviors, your team's actions and the corporate policies of your employer. These values can show up in different ways at your job. Here are examples of what each tier of work values can look like:

Personal

Your personal values are a strong guide when choosing the kind of work you want to do. These types of personal values can have a range of impacts on your career:

  • Utility: Many people like to feel that they are useful to others, attracting them to service-oriented jobs where they can provide an essential function to society. Valuing your utility and usefulness at work motivates you to directly help others and volunteer to provide assistant in the workplace.

  • Achievement: People who are motivated by achievement seek out recognition, awards, prestige and a positive reputation at work. This can draw them to fast-paced, competitive, high-profile roles. People who value achievement at work are often career-driven and focused.

  • Compensation: Getting compensated well for your time is an important motivating factor for most people. People who value compensation as one of their top priorities may be willing to do harder tasks and apply their work ethic more to increase their earning potential.

  • Freedom: Being able to make your own decisions and decide the best way to achieve a goal is important to many professionals. Freedom-oriented individuals look for employers who can support their values by giving them a high level of autonomy in their jobs.

  • Variety: Valuing variety is associated with a desire to have different experiences and stay interested in your work with new opportunities. Some companies specialize and segment responsibilities, while others allow employees to help out in a range of ways and fulfill their need for variety at work.

  • Passion: Passion drives many people to pursue a line of work that they're excited about. People who want to be passionate about their jobs may sacrifice other lifestyle values in order to do the exact kind of work that they want.

  • Security: Many people select which jobs to pursue based on their projected level of job security and stability. Valuing security can involve pursuing an essential trade, committing to a stable company, looking for salaried positions and seeking out internal advancement and promotions.

Team

Just like you can have personal values that impact your work, the team you're apart of can have collective values that embody your shared goals. Team values are usually meant to uphold a standard of professionalism and productivity. They shape the environment and culture of a workplace. Examples include:

  • Trust: Many successful teams value trust as a way to empower one another and successfully accomplish complex tasks. Teams that value trust are genuine and up-front about their expectations and abilities. They rely on one another for help and keep each other accountable.

  • Communication: Teams that value communication identify clear channels that team members should use to share updates and ask questions. They often have a problem-solving mindset that emphasizes collaboration and self-awareness.

  • Loyalty: When a team values loyalty in the workplace, there is usually a culture of dedication and commitment among colleagues. Employees on teams that emphasize loyalty may stay at their company for longer periods of time and feel personally obligated to team goals.

  • Fairness: Teams express that they value fairness by providing everyone with equal opportunities to achieve success. They rotate responsibilities, set consistent procedures and consider everyone's ideas and input when making decisions.

  • Structure: Some teams highly value the chain of command within their team. They assign authority based on each person's role on the team and emphasize organization and compliance.

  • Recognition: It's common for teams to value recognition, taking steps to show appreciation when team members demonstrate excellence in their work. When recognition is a team value, feedback becomes a part of standard team operations. Valuing recognition can result in teams that regularly share internal encouragement and praise.

Company

Your employer's mission and the policies they use to carry out their goals reflect their corporate values. Finding a company that embodies values you believe in can be just as meaningful as implementing your work values on a personal or team level. Examples of corporate values you can look for include:

  • Accountability: Companies that take responsibility for their action and work to be more mindful of their impact show the value of accountability. Corporations that value accountability are transparent with their employees and customers about their shortcomings and take actionable steps to overcome them.

  • Environmental awareness: Many businesses adopt environmentally-friendly policies to reflect that they believe in preserving our ecosystem. Environmentally-conscious companies invest in green technology and work to minimize their pollution and carbon footprint.

  • Social responsibility: People often seek out potential employers who share their views on social causes. Employers can show their social values by partnering with community groups, making donations and sharing public stances on social issues.

  • Diversity: Employers that value diversity implement inclusive hiring practices and take an active role in stopping discrimination within their company. They accept feedback to become more inclusive for both employees and clients through their business practices.

  • Preparedness: Employees expect their employer to be able to handle problems, implement changes and be prepared for challenges. Well-operated businesses with strong oversight show that the company values preparedness and security.

Related: How To Find a Job That Aligns With Your Ethical Values

How to discover the ideals you most value at work

Knowing your own work values is an excellent tool that you can use to find an employer or start establishing values within your career. Follow these steps to assess your own values and decide which are most important to you:

1. Brainstorm words describing your ideal job

Start by envisioning your ideal career and lifestyle. Think about what you want to accomplish and how you want to spend your time, and use this information to determine your main personal values. Write down adjectives and characteristics that describe this scenario, focusing on how each value relates to your career.

2. Write down what you liked about past jobs

Think about past positions and what you appreciated most about working in each role and for each employer. Recall what responsibilities gave you the best sense of satisfaction. Analyze your priorities in the workplace and determine what values could have influenced your decisions.

3. Ask others about your assets

Ask your colleagues what words they would use to describe you and your approach to accomplishing work. The characteristics that others see in you are likely to be connected to your work values. Getting outside input can help you determine how your work values fit into a collaborative team environment.

4. Think about what you respect in others

The traits that you admire in others may also reflect your value system. Considering the traits you aspire to can help you identify the areas of your career that you want to focus on and grow. Brainstorm characteristics in your colleagues or boss that you respect and want to embody yourself.

5. Compile a list

Write down words and phrases to describe all of the values you've thought of so far. This creates a bank of values and ideals that you can reflect on. 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

Try assigning a rank or value to each of the values on your list. You can use several different strategies to rank your values, like comparing each one in an ascending list or ranking them as "Important in a workplace," "Nice to have in a workplace" or "Not important in a workplace."

7. Consider hypotheticals

Some people may have work values that conflict with one another, and it can be hard to decide which is most important. Think about what you would do if you had to choose between two of your top values at work.

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