The Personal/Organizational Values Ethics Connection

woman smiling while at laptop

Let’s face it — it makes sense that job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and loyalty can be enhanced when employees feel a personal connection to their jobs and employers relative to personal interests, needs, and values. Therefore, students and employees should consider how their personal values align with organizations they work for now or in the future. 

Follow these basic steps to investigate the relationship between your personal values and the values of an employer, and ethics:

1. Identify Personal Values

First, identify your top personal values [5-10 values] and why these values are important to you. If you need help considering personal values for your top ten list, post “personal values” into your computer browser and you will likely see various articles and/or lists discussing this topic. Use this material as resources to help you pinpoint your own personal values. Keep in mind that everyone will not have the same personal values.

2. Explore Organizational Values

Next, identify the values of the organization you work for or organizations that you are considering for future employment. Helpful ideas to identify organizational values:

  • Review the organization’s website to identify the organization’s mission, values, and goals, if available (many organizations post this information on their websites today).
  • Consider what internal organizational information (via the Internet, promotional literature, recruitment literature, advertisements, policies, procedures, practices, etc.) suggests about the organization, its industry, and organizational values.
  • Reflect on the external information about the organization, its industry, and values (via blogs, articles, other media, trade associations, government agencies, etc.).
  • Interview current and former organizational employees relative to the topic of values.
  • Consider important decisions that the organization has implemented over the last few years and how these decisions demonstrate organizational values.
  • Think about the management style of organizational leadership and how the management style supports organizational values.

3. Compare and Contrast

Create a chart that lists your identified personal values and the organizational values side-by-side. Identify the extent to which personal values and the organizational values align or contrast, recognizing that the greater the difference between personal and organizational values, the greater the potential for ethical issues to occur. Consider how an alignment or gap between personal and organizational values can positively or negatively impact your work and create ethical dilemmas.

As you work through this process, keep in mind that there isn’t a cookie-cutter answer regarding the “right” level of personal and organizational values alignment needed to minimize ethical issues on the job. However, taking the time to gather and review this information should help you focus on your own personal values and acknowledge important personal/organizational values ethics connections for greater on-the-job success.


Written by Dianne Weinstein, Ph.D., Lead Faculty of the Master of Arts in Psychology program in the College of Health, Human Services, and Science at Ashford University.

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