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  • Hans Petter Stub

Values without value

Watch the video below with Gemma Cockroft from Yara and Hans Petter Stub, Partner/Head of employer branding at Whydentify a World Employer Branding Day 2022 Country Partner for Norway, as they discuss the impact of vison, purpose, values on the employer brand and read further insights in the article below.

Just about all major companies have defined a set of values, and often promote them in employer branding. There are 3 reasons why these values lack real value.

The first problem with company values is that most companies promote the same ones, making it impossible for candidates to distinguish between employers. Respect, integrity and caring; examples of values that are mentioned all too often. Instead of distinct values, these are common personality traits.

When defining the values of your company, you should test the antithesis – the opposite of your values. If no-one agrees to the antithesis, then your value most likely is generic and won’t serve as a useful guide for how your employees should act.

Ask if some of your employees are dishonest or feel that their colleagues are. If no one raises their hand, then the value integrity is irrelevant. It’s given.

You have too many

Another problem with values is that companies often have too many. I have encountered companies with 7 values, 2 more than the HR Director was able to remember. Not recalling the values make them irrelevant, but there is another problem with quantity: If everything is important, then nothing is important.

A golden rule to follow is that if you have more than 3 values, you have none.

Back them up

The biggest issue with values, might be that companies aren’t willing to back them up. It’s all talk and no walk.

Whenever there is a conflict between living up to the values and short-term financial gain, money nearly always wins. If you’re not willing to sacrifice anything for your value, then it has no value at all.

In my home country Norway, supporting Pride is a huge thing. Thankfully. From politicians to companies and even the church; they all stand up for the movement. Mostly by changing their Instagram photo for a month, but even symbolism isn’t without value. The problem is that some of these companies have operations in Poland – but you don’t see them supporting Pride there. Because they would lose money. If you only support Pride when there’s no financial risk involved, I don’t think candidates will be very impressed.

A good example of how to live up to your values is from Nike. The stood by their support for Colin Kaepernick even though the president and roughly half of the US population protested; even burned shoes and promised never to wear them again. Nike made 6 billion dollars in the years after, and I bet they got an application or two as well.

Values are good in employer branding. Given that you have distinct ones, that you don’t have too many and that you’re willing to back them up.

Get cracking.


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