How to Improve Employee Retention: The Importance of Organizational Values

November 15, 2010

What would the Dr. Do?

Dispensing expert HR advice from EPSI’s President, the highly respected author André Durivage, Ph.D.

Q: I’m a Director at an organization that has implemented a post-graduate university recruitment program as part of our human resources management plan. After reviewing our initial results, we realized that we are experiencing a higher rate of turnover than we would have liked. Are there steps we can take to ensure that candidates are more likely to stay with our organization?

– T. Forcellini

Vancouver, British Columbia


A: It’s great that you are looking into this potential issue proactively as there are some simple measures that you can implement in your selection process to ensure that the post graduate candidates you choose are the best fit for your organization.

For example; using a method to identify candidates work values as part of the selection process and comparing them to your organizations values, you can choose candidates who will likely have higher job satisfaction and an increased intent to stay with the organization.

Studies have shown that when employees share work values (value congruence) with their supervisors and managers, the work environment is more likely to fulfill the psychological needs of the employee. Specifically a study by Edwards and Cable (2009) demonstrated that value congruence positively enhances job satisfaction, organizational identification and through these outcomes, intent to remain in the organization. Results indicated that this likely occurs in part because value congruence promotes trust and communication between employees. In the study trust was defined as “the willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of another, due to the expectation that those actions will not harm oneself” and communication referred to “the open exchange of information through formal and informal interactions among organizational members” (Goldhaber, et al. 1978) Essentially, by adding a small step to the initial selection process you can identify which new young employees will be more likely to identify with your organizations culture and values.

In addition, identifying your employees work values can be a useful tool for your managers to pre-emptively navigate the potential conflicts that may arise between various generations of employees in the workplace. These conflicts may present themselves due to the various generations distinct methods of approaching circumstances and not necessarily due to any fundamental irreconcilable differences between the two groups. The new generation of workers (referred to as gen “Y”, Millennials etc.) may in fact share work values with their older generation counterparts (Gen “X” and Baby Boomers). These shared values can provide a jumping off point for managers to implement strategies to promote communication and cooperation between employees of all ages.

Each individual in an organization, regardless of age or corresponding generation, has their own personality, values and experiences that shape who they are and contributes to the diversity and productiveness of the workplace. Using a values test such as the Organizational Values Test (OVT) to identify an individual or organization’s work values can prove to be an extremely effective tool in managing the changing workforce.

Edwards, J., Cable, D. (2009) The Value of Value Congruence: Journal of Applied Psychology, 2009, Vol. 94, No. 3, 654-677.

Goldhaber, G., Yates, M., Porter, D., & Lesniak, R. (1978) Organizational communication: State of the art. Human Communication Research, 5, 76-96.

To submit a question to be answered by EPSI’s president André Durivage, Ph.D, please send an email with ‘Question for the Doctor’ clearly marked in the subject line.


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