“Good values are like a magnet – they attract good people.” – John Wooden

As a result of the recent pandemic, many employees are reassessing all aspects of “work”. They are favouring flexibility and work / life balance, and the added influence of Millennials and Gen Zs is shifting workplace philosophy across the board. Many individuals are looking for employment that fits into their lifestyles, instead of the other way around. To stay current, employers must revisit – or even rethink – their values to attract and retain the best talent.

Without a culture that naturally attracts and retains high performers, you are doomed to be a minor league player. A lackluster culture puts a ceiling on your organization’s potential and condemns you to mediocrity. Ouch! Who aspires to that as their company’s mission? Hopefully no one, but if that’s where you are, it’s time to dig deep and revisit your foundation.

Where to start? In my latest article, we stressed the importance of values and principles, but we didn’t dig too deep into values: that’s our mission here.

As printers, we know what we do and how to do it. That’s the process and technology-focused stuff that differentiates the graphic arts industry from all others. At CFR we say that’s necessary to be a player, but it doesn’t get you into the high-performance circle. The bigger question, which sadly few employees, including company leaders, can quickly and passionately answer is – WHY?

This is where values come into play and here are our recommendations.


Think of this as a journey – an exciting journey

Deciding which values are critical for your company is just the beginning. We can’t emphasize this enough and stress that you ensure your employees know that from the moment you open the discussion with them. Before you do that, however, decide which values are most important to you, your customers, and your direct reports. We’re not saying everyone should have the same values – personal, professional, and interpersonal – but it sure helps to know where you have alignment and where you have differences. Some of the current values we are seeing from employees include flexibility, work / life balance, professional development, and support of mental health and well-being.

Pick your top values – we suggest five – and be clear as to WHY you chose them. Fuzzy thinking won’t impress your employees, or your customers so be clear and comfortable with your choices. Be sure you can defend your choices. The top five should be fixed – for now. In other words, until you run into situations where there are value conflicts, you have no examples to share and prove you chose wisely.

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel

Any good HR resource will give you a set of values to choose from. Obviously they are all important, but what will set you apart from your competitors with your employees and customers is the Top 5 you choose. If you have been in business for three or more years and have a solid customer base and a good number of long-service employees, make the determination of your values a high-involvement process.

At CFR we strongly believe high involvement, leads to high commitment, which leads to high performance. The more participation from everyone, the more likely you are to have a rock-solid set of values that customers and employees appreciate. A feel-good attitude about your company and what it stands for is what keeps the customers coming back and the employees grateful to work with you.

Make it fun

Okay, we are showing our hand in choosing this as a key ingredient, since after all, “having fun” is a value. As we’ve said, all values are admirable and worthy of pursuit, so why not make it fun to be in the graphic arts industry?

Some of you may recall earlier CFR articles where we expressed our appreciation for the work of Shawn Achor, author of several books on positive psychology, who has addressed leaders in nearly half of the Fortune 500 companies, TEDx, and Oprah. Without getting too deep into the science of fun, you have to admit feeling good is infectious and a great way to combat stress. In as little as five minutes you can get an appreciation for his work, as well as his passion in sharing it. Clearly having fun is one of his core values!

The way we work is changing and companies need to grow and evolve to stay relevant. Never hesitate to ask your team for their input. Employees who feel heard are generally more invested and stay longer, creating success for everyone.

By Gary Forget