When was the last time you did a pop quiz with your team to findout if they know what your organization’s core values are?

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According to new research from Eagle Hill Consulting, if you poppedthe quiz today, nearly half your team would fail.

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Eagle Hill interviewed 604 U.S. employees to find out whether they have a goodgrip on their employers’ core values.

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The firm did so based upon earlier research that shows employeebehavior can be highly influenced by corporate culture — althoughcore values are not necessarily reflected in culture, which is what people actually do, notwhat the rules say they should do. Further, research exists thatstrongly suggests productivity is tied to solid organizationalvalues.

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Eagle Hill identified two very important trends in this somewhatlimited-scope survey: Far too many employees don’t know theircompany’s core values, but those that do embrace them at work.

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To the question, “Do you know what your employer’s core valuesare?” 53 percent say they do.

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That means nearly half don’t.

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“These findings are troubling because organizational valuesshould be the driving force motivating employees’ day-to-daybehavior and their relationships with customers, partners and otherstakeholders,” says Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill president and chiefexecutive officer. “When employees say they don’t know theirorganization’s values, that’s a warning signal that an organizationcan’t effectively execute on its business strategies, has aworkforce morale issue, or is vulnerable to ethical lapses.”

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Indeed, those who say they know the core values definitely paidattention to them. This small group was asked, “Do these corevalues drive your decisions and behavior at work?” Nine in 10 saythey do.

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Although many didn’t know the core values, most say they knowthe difference between ethical and unethical behavior on the job.Asked whether their employer encouraged them to report or “raiseconcerns” unethical or dishonest behavior, 75 percent say theiremployer does.

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“The good news in our poll is that most employees feel that theyare in an environment where they can report ethical lapses,” Jeziorsays. “For leaders, this whistleblower reporting can be a triggerto examine if there is a misunderstanding of values or amisalignment between company values and policies — like salestarget or compensation — that can drive bad behavior.”

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.