Workplace Expectations and Values

10 Values and Workplace Culture

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify your personal and workplace values.
  • Determine the difference between values clashes and rights infringement in the workplace.

Personal Values

Your personal values are the things that are important to you and motivate you in your personal and work life. Your values determine your priorities, what you do, and how you act.

When what you do and how you act are aligned with your values, you will usually feel good about how your life is going. If your personal values are not aligned with what you do, and how you act, you may feel unsettled or unhappy.

Ensuring that your values align with your actions in the workplace is crucial to ensuring you have a positive work experience.

In the next video, Elder Mary Roberts discusses her personal values. Note how she contrasts traditional values with the values of broader society.

Identifying Your Values

Identifying your values can help you to determine your priorities, both in your personal life and at work.

In the following video, James Williams, Western Canada Aboriginal Liaison for Kiewit, talks about how his success aligns with his personal values.

Below is a list of some personal values. You may have values that are not included in this list.

Abundance Clarity Discipline Freedom Inclusivity Passion Strength
Accountability Comfort Effectiveness Friendship Independence Peace Stability
Achievement Compassion Empathy Fulfillment Integrity Perfection Status
Action Competition Energy Fun Intelligence Persistence Success
Adventure Connection Enthusiasm Harmony Intimacy Philanthropy Teamwork
Ambition Contribution Excellence Happiness Kindness Power Tolerance
Awareness Control Fairness Health Knowledge Respect Tradition
Balance Courage Faith Honesty Liveliness Security Truth
Beauty Creativity Fame Honour Love Simplicity Vitality
Calmness Curiosity Family Humility Money Spirituality Wealth
Cheerfulness Determination Flexibility Humour Nature Spontaneity Wisdom

Action Plan Activity 6 – Personal values

In your Action Planning Tool in Appendix A, list the five (5) values that are most important to you and record how these values influence how you conduct yourself at work.

For example, in the ‘Professional values’ video, James explains how his value of helping is tied to his community. This makes an impact in his daily work and as a result of his value system, he has been able to create job opportunities for his community.  James is proud to be of service to his community.

Workplace Culture

Since workplace culture is the sum of how all people at the workplace conduct themselves, and what they value, it is possible to influence your workplace culture by staying true to your values. Knowing how to communicate in an effective and respectful way is important to building a positive workplace culture. It is also important to model the values that are significant to you.


  • If you value money, do what you can to help the company you work for be successful and then negotiate a raise, or offer to work overtime.
  • If you value friendliness, make sure you smile and greet the people at your worksite.

Workplace Values


Use this work values quiz to identify what you value at work.

Misalignment of workplace and personal values

What happens if you find yourself in a job where the workplace values do not match your own values. That can be very uncomfortable.


  • You find yourself at a worksite where meeting deadlines is a core value. You are uncomfortable cutting corners to meet predetermined timelines because you know that the end-result will not be as high a quality product as it could be. What do you do?
  • You have a job where you are frequently expected to work overtime without notice. You often have to arrange for someone else to pick up your children from daycare. Your family is important to you. What do you do?


What You Can Do

Determine how serious the misalignment of values is: it is hard to find a perfect fit.

Identify your values by making a list of what is important to you in a job. If you have not done so yet, you can take the work values quiz referred to in the activity above.

Prioritize the items on your list and think about what can you live with and what can’t you live with in your work. Try to identify where your boundaries lie and whether you can find a compromise with your employer or within yourself. In this process, you must reflect on and self-evaluate your personal motivation or reason for desiring the compromise; is this really about the organization or more about yourself?

If the conflict is small

Decide whether you can live with the difference in values by either ignoring it or compromising. This may be possible when the value is important to the workplace and not as important to you.

If the conflict is serious

If the clash in values is a serious one to you, consider these steps:

Talk to your mentors, and take advantage of any community or job supports that you have, to try to determine an approach to this conflict that is right for you.

Talk to your supervisor or co-workers about your concerns – sometimes a dialogue where all people are really listening and trying to find a solution can solve even big differences. If you choose to address the issue with your employer or team members, approach the conversation cautiously and be sensitive to the perspective of others; remember that even if this workplace is not a fit for you, it may be the perfect fit for others on your team and you do not want to insult them or injure another employee’s motivation or morale.


After talking with your supervisor, coworkers or your mentors, identify points of agreement or disagreement and reevaluate your approach or options.

Evaluate how important this job is to you: do you need the experience, do you need the income, are there other job options for you if you leave your current employer – usually it would have to be a very serious issue to prompt you to leave your job.

If it is a job that you cannot leave immediately but is full of conflict, start to plan how you might improve things: would it help to change teams, is there something that you can do (learn a new skill) that would allow you to have more employment choices in the future?

Do your part to maintain a respectful workplace, even if there is conflict

Values clash versus Rights Infringement

Sometimes there are values clashes between people who are working together. These are hard to resolve because values are personal and reflect what is important to an individual or a particular group. Maintaining a respectful workplace allows people who have different values to work together.

Rights infringement is something different. In British Columbia, if you are being discriminated against because of your race, age, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities, marital or family status, religion or political beliefs, you are experiencing a human rights violation. Discrimination means treating someone badly or denying them a benefit based on a personal characteristic.

Exercise – Is it a values clash or a rights infringement?


Key Takeaways

  • Your personal values are the things that are important to you and motivate you in your personal and work life.
  • Workplace values are what a company or organization defines as most important.
  • Culture is the behavior that results when a group arrives at a set of—generally unspoken and unwritten—rules for how they will work together.
  • It is possible to influence your workplace culture.
  • A values clash is when values do not align; a human rights infringement is against the law.


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