Thinking About Work Values

When deciding on career direction or even just the next job you’d like, how many of you or the people with whom you work think about the things you value in the workplace? Matching up your own work values with that of an employer, or even the field you are considering in general is a wise idea.

You see I’ve come across a number of people over the years who will take a job, work at it for a very short period of time, and then quit because it’s not right for them. When they are explaining to me why they had to move on, they often tell me that they were expected to do things they considered too unreasonable. Yet, there are a number of people apparently doing those jobs who don’t find the work unreasonable, they just have different values.

One example is a woman who said she couldn’t survive in the job because hardly anyone spoke to each other except on their breaks and lunch. She felt restricted and saw the work atmosphere as oppressive. The more she spoke, I realized that the other employees were just focused on the work to be done, and the set up of the office didn’t encourage communication between employees until they got together on their breaks and lunch. She was such a sociable person, that when she left her desk and walked around trying to start conversations, she felt rejected when others just kept working and barely said anything in return or replied but didn’t look at her. What she was used to and what she was experiencing were two different things.

And that person you are going to work for? Well it’s pretty significant that you and your boss know the expectations you have for one another. Are you the kind of person that values constant feedback from your boss or the kind that likes to be left alone to do your work? If you value positive recognition but work for a supervisor who believes it’s their job to only tell you what you are doing incorrectly, things probably are going to be rocky at best, and at worst, you might find it better to move on altogether.

These are but two examples of work values in action. It I surprising to me that more people don’t consider what they value in the workplace more when they are looking for work. Even someone out of work looking for an entry-level position should have some sense of the values a company has in order to be happy when they start working. I’ve heard people tell me they can’t afford to think about work values, they just need a job, and I do understand the urgency of that. But the cost of taking a job out of desperation and then once the realize the fit isn’t right, quitting is steep. After all, time has been lost finding the right job, and you’re faced with wondering if you should put a short-term job you quit or got fired from on your resume or leaving it off and creating a gap.

And determining what your values are in black and white isn’t something that will take you weeks or months. It can be something you sit down and do in a single day, possibly two. Why you could look up, “Work Values” on the internet alone and have a long list to choose from and get you thinking in a matter of seconds. Other options if you need the human touch would be to sit down with an Employment Counsellor or Career Advisor. Whatever you choose to do, the time will be time well spent.

Is it fair to say that most people would like a good fit between what they personally value and what their employer’s value? Is the work you do important in your view, and should that matter to you or not as long as you get paid for doing it? Does the atmosphere around you matter or can you put up with just going in to do your thing and know that the atmosphere doesn’t matter? Do you value getting paid when promised or can you deal with getting your pay a little late if the employer is short one week? Do you value interaction with others or value solitude in performing the work to be done?

Values aren’t about what’s right and wrong; their more about how you go about doing things, and how things are done at a company. What’s important to you and important to the employer? If an employer does a good job communication those values to job applicants, they will usually attract candidates that will be a good fit in their workplace.

Read up on the website on a company and you might find information about their beliefs and values; and as you read, you’ll find yourself in agreement or not. You might find information not only on websites, but in company materials and hand-outs; annual reports, brochures, etc.

Thinking about what’s important to you, your values and that of your future employer may be one thing that brings you higher job satisfaction.


3 thoughts on “Thinking About Work Values

  1. Yes, it is important to be able to match your personal values with that of the company’s/job’s values, but in this day and age it is difficult to do so. People have mortgages, etc. to pay. I have traveled great distances to/from a job that I really never enjoyed because of those bills. The job market has greatly improved, but has not returned to the way it was before the downfall of the real estate market. I am presently looking for a job closer to home (by the way I am a real estate/corporate paralegal), but again I am looking for a salary that will allow me to keep my home, my car payments and other bills current, and, therefore, matching personal values to that of the company’s/job’s is not as high of a priority as I wish it could be. And yes, I have simplified my life as much as I can without jeopardizing the enjoyment of my life.


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