The Value of Values

Personality has been one of the hottest trends in assessment over the last 10-15 years, as organizations and practitioners realize the value and utility a personality can provide in selecting and developing talent. Witness the rise of numerous personality instruments in the marketplace, the use of personality to develop the most highly-prized organizational talent, and the role of personality in the red-hot topic of derailment. While everyone at Hogan certainly would agree whole-heartedly with this movement, we’ve also been banging our drum about the role of values and culture in organizational performance. Despite ample evidence (both scientific and anecdotal), values just don’t seem to get the same degree of attention from organizations and practitioners.

This is a shame, because there is a lot of utility in these types of instruments, and the return on investment for assessing culture is tremendous. In a recent example, one of our financial services clients used the Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI) in an effort to reduce turnover in one of their frontline positions. After one year of using the MVPI, they had reduced their turnover by 66%. That’s not a typo – two-thirds reduction in turnover!

I’m not arguing that we should abandon personality and narrow our focus on values. Quite the opposite. Personality and values are very distinct constructs, and each adds incremental prediction and validity over the other. Personality has a lot to do with our abilities to perform certain types of tasks, while values have more to do with our motivation and satisfaction with an organization’s culture. An employee whose values align with the organization’s culture will be more satisfied, and likely to work harder and with a better attitude. If the values and culture don’t align, then even a very capable performer won’t be motivated to do his or her best.

Going back to the study above, we were able to find significant reductions in both voluntary turnover (employees who wanted to leave the organization) and involuntary turnover (employees who were shown the door). Voluntary turnover is naturally where we would expect to find the biggest impact; satisfied employees won’t be searching on their lunch break. But the reduction in involuntary turnover means that the organization had employees who were capable of doing the job but just didn’t want to, and were subsequently being terminated for poor performance. By aligning the culture and values for these employees, these underperformers improved as a result of increased motivation.

So how much is this all worth to an organization? In the study above we estimated the cost of turnover at half an employee’s annual salary (a conservative estimate). The annual savings attributed to this program (the difference in the number of employees turning over each year) is well into the millions. Annually. With an ROI of greater than $30 for every $1 spent, this program has paid for itself over and over and over again.

Jarrett Shalhoop
Senior Consultant
Hogan Assessment Systems