Ruth Dance
Written by
Ruth Dance

On Thursday 19th October 2017 we celebrated World Values Day. World Values Day is an opportunity for all of us to think about our most deeply held values and most importantly, to act on them.

The Employee Engagement Alliance, Peakon and UK Values Alliance ran the World Values Day evening event at the Peakon offices in London. With over 100 people registered to attend, just shy of 80 passionate people showed up ready for an incredibly fun and inspiring evening.


Liz Murphy, from UK Values Alliance, kicked off the event with some  impressive numbers on the social reach #WorldValuesDay had had so far – 9,500 hashtags used by 6,000 users on Twitter, spread across 99 countries which reached a potential 26.35 million people.

It was then over to our host for the evening, Chris Elmitt MD of Crystal Interactive, and professional conference facilitator.

Chris introduced the running order and format of the event before explaining that his personal value of ‘optimism’ related to the trust he had that he’d get all of 100 iPads (we’d all been given on arrival) back at the end of the evening!

Guest speakers

The first of the speakers was Patrick Cournoyer from Peakon’s HQ in Copenhagen. Patrick joined us to talk through how, as a young startup 18 months ago, Peakon went about designing their brand, mission, values and behaviours.

‘Be More.’ This overarches everything we do. That’s what we do every single day and it’s been with us since day one

Patrick explained that the entire company went to Copenhagen on an off-site and designed these 3 values. The team collectively designed six words that “every employee knows”;

  1. Elevate People
  2. Drive Change
  3. Valued Partner

These values are used as part of Peakon’s recruitment and onboarding process, which focus on showing and guiding their employees on how to live them. Once employees had the chance to let the values be embedded, Peakon took them on another off-site. There, they came up with the behaviours to help them live their values every day. Patrick expressed, “This the voice of our employees. And It’s not corporate at all. It’s about being a good person. And no-one is going to argue with wanting to be that.”

“Not everything is going to resonate with every employee. But if we can get one person to resonate with one thing then we are achieving that behaviour to achieve that value.”

This was a great example of how important, valuable, and beneficial it is and can be to involve employees in designing the values and behaviour the company live every day. I’m not sure whether it’s the super cool looking offices, friendly faces, strong set of values and behaviours or the commitment to take the team off-site (usually to warmer climates) that makes Peakon such an attractive as a place to work and/or do business with!


The next speaker was Penny Cole from Old Mutual Wealth

Penny discussed how Old Mutual Wealth used values to guide a business change programme post Financial Crisis involving significant downsizing..They introduced a tool from the Barrett Values Centre to measure personal values, perceived current culture and the desired organisation values. This helped to get conversations ‘under the surface’.

Penny strongly advised that organisations should commit to taking leadership off site at least twice a year. Even if it means closing down the business sections. Commit and still do it.

“It’s critical for leaders to understand how values truly show up in the organisation.”

And then to equip leaders and the broader organisation to hold conversations with care, empathy and consideration. A critical moment was when the Director of the business area stopped a very business focussed leadership gathering to notice a ‘tumbleweed’ and invited people to talk about it.

Penny showed how employee engagement actually improved and ‘cultural  entropy’ (amount of wasted energy and friction in the business)  reduced over a period of increasing uncertainty and business pressure showing the positive impact of leading with values.

A few tools were suggested as key

  1. Values measurement tool and a good partner to work with
  2. Iceberg model, for getting to what’s below the surface
  3. ‘Pause button’ – knowing your triggers


Up next on the agenda was Alison bond from Halo works  

Alison opened her session with her passion and commitment to working with organisations to help them to “Measure benefits instead of transactions.”

Cheerful, knowledge and honest – these are the core values they’ve had at Halo since they started.

“A lot of senior people in organisations think they [values] are just something that goes on wall. Senior people understand numbers, so go in with the numbers.”

“Get people to Do the right thing for the right reason. A trust model is a much easier way of working.”

Alison explained that when people are looking for jobs she encourages them to spend time in an organisation. One that is scattered, hard to find a place in, communication doesn’t work and their vision is about being the best is usually one that has a clear lack of common and strong values.

Beware of ‘being the best’ vision statements implying benchmarking – “To beat people… you have to beat people. so if you see that on their sticker in the window, turn around quickly.”


Q&A with audience

Whilst the presentations had been going on, the audience had been using the ipads to ask questions. It was then over to Chris to facilitate these questions.

Peakon are new and young. But how do you engage 4-5 gens in the workplace?

Patrick from Peakon then shared with us his previous experience working at Virgin America where there was a vast range of ages and experiences:

“Build your behaviours so that any generation can connect with them. Be smart with how you develop the behaviours. Don’t be short sighted. Build for the future.”

What tools were used at Old Mutual during the change and transition periods and how?

Penny explained it’s important to recognise the upsets in life. After crisis people go into victim mode. Something Penny found to be hugely successful was a 1 hour exercise – helping their people to dump their own upsets and identify their own triggers.

“Press the pause button” was Penny’s biggest piece of advice.  

How did you empower people?

Penny shared: “We can’t make promises to people going through TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings – Protection of Employment). We don’t know what happens in 12 months time. But we equip our people. For example, we paid someone to do their midwife training. We encourage everyone to understand that only they are in charge of their own destiny”

How do you challenge leaders who don’t live by their own values?

“Ask them what they want to achieve and help them to align their behaviours. Keep asking the same question over and again.”

How do you align the cultural differences e.g. Middle East control and command culture vs Australia which is like an ‘unmoulded jelly’ with very flat structures.

“All humans want to feel loved and feel safe”

“Let your people talk about their values and how they behave in their culture”

“A card game with each value – in that country – describe what they do in their culture”

Let’s talk about acquisition and mergers of organisations with strong values at each. How do you deal with that?

Patrick at Peakon – “Most companies will acquire the organisation as they were attracted to the people as well as the tech/product. Incorporate their beliefs in a smart way.”

Penny at Old Mutual –  “We bought them for a reason because we liked them. So we gave them the space  and time to integrate naturally. Then it was time to identify a thin thread that works across all areas of the business.”

Do the owners/investors believe in the results the values bring… or do they actually believe in the values?

Patrick at Peakon –  “We brought them into the entire process from the beginning when designing our values and behaviours. That was really important to us.”

Alison from Halo – “No customer buys from a company with the intent to make them rich. They buy because they buy into that organisation or product, and that will be down to their values.”


Interactive workshop

It was then the final half hour of the interactive work in smaller groups where we discussed:

Is there a Values gap?

Is it inevitable? And if so, why is it inevitable?

What are the main causes for the values gap?

What are your recommendations or things you’ve tried that help work?

Of the many many things that cause the gap… Top 5 voted by the audience were:

  1. Lack of authentic dialogue about values and behaviour in organisations
  2. Lack of consistent behaviour of senior leaders
  3. Lack of understanding the actual meaning behind the values
  4. Fear of giving feedback 
  5. Business decisions and moral decisions


Some fantastic suggestions, ideas and experience were shared with the group.


Using the technology through Crystal Interactive was not only a refreshing way of running an event but also a hugely helpful resource as we’re now able to follow up with all attendees on the masses of content, suggestions and discussions that were had. A huge benefit for all in the room no doubt.

The evening flew by, it was a refreshing balance of using technology, hearing from inspiring speakers, interactive group work and networking. The atmosphere was buzzing.

As we left the beautiful offices of Peakon (and the iPads back safely in Chris’ hands), we were encouraged for one last time to take the Values Challenge.

  1. Choose a Value that’s important to you and then 2. Do something that brings your value passionately to life – something challenging, creative and fun.


I Value….




So I….


Spent the 3 hour journey home (thanks to Southern Rail delays) checking in with my friends and family far and wide.


Here are 4 ways you can get involved next year:

  • Support the World Values Day Thunderclap (It takes a few seconds!)
  • Take the Values Challenge – identify a value, act on it, and share it with the world.
  • Follow #WorldValuesDay and join the conversation on Twitter & Instagram.
  • Design and run your own values-related initiative – Find out how.


I hope to see you at an event with us soon,


~ Ruth



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