Knowing your work values is important

I recall when Wes Welker, then a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, declared that the 2011 walkout of NFL players “is pretty sad.” He further told reporters that he was happy to be playing and never imagined he’d be making the money he is. It was obvious he loved football.


This made me think of two things: one, there are professional players who want to play the season and two, money isn’t everything to some of them. Surely pro athletes make more money than most of us could imagine, but for a pro athlete to imply that he makes more money than he should is remarkable and refreshing.

Perhaps the lesson we can take away from Wes Welker’s statement is that money doesn’t define the success of one’s career. What defines the success of one’s career is how rewarding it is. Yes, some would say that money is their most desired value; but it’s a known fact that the majority of employees hold other values closer to their heart.

In a workshop I delivered at our career center, I conducted an exercise on work values. This exercise made my clients think about which values would make their jobs more rewarding. Many of the workshop attendees list values such as:

  • Achievement: being able to meet their goals.
  • Balance: having time for family, work and play.
  • Independence/Autonomy: control of their own destiny.
  • Influence: able to have an impact on others.
  • Integrity: stand up for their beliefs, as well as others who showed strong character..
  • Honesty: telling the truth and knowing that others are telling the truth.
  • Power: control over others.
  • Respect: care and trust of self and others.
  • Spirituality: believing in their core beliefs.
  • Creativity: able to express their personality in your work.

Over the years our values may change. Some of my clients saw health as their number one value, and this came as no surprise, as they were older workers and their bodies were changing. Personally, I valued balance, creativity, and autonomy. I desire the same values, but autonomy is at the top of my list.

My workshop attendees agreed that unless their values were met, they’d be unhappy with their perspective jobs. Some openly admit that they were unhappy at their last job because their values weren’t being met.

Job seekers need to determine if their values jive with the company’s

Now the question is how do job seekers know if a perspective company supports their values? The simple answer might be to simply ask during their questioning phase. “What are the values your company supports?” Fair enough question, right.

Another approach would be to ask someone who works for the company you’re considering. This might result in a more honest answer. “Their number one value is increasing revenue no matter what it takes” is not a value for job seekers who want balance, as it implies working long hours.

Some job seekers might feel more comfortable researching a company by going to, where they can read reviews others have written on said company. My feeling about these reviews is that the people who write them might be disgruntled, so you’d never know if the reviews are accurate or written out of spite.

I’m curious to know what your three most important values are. Especially if they’re not on the list.


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