Align Your Work Life With Your Personal Values

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October 16, 2014 by Rick Brammer

Values reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong and influence attitudes and behaviors. These deeply held beliefs are abstract concepts of what is important and worthwhile. They can help give meaning to life and act as an anchor during life’s trials and tribulations.

When we live and work according to our values, we feel in balance and at peace with what we do and who we are. If we are forced to compromise our values—either by individuals or situations—we can struggle to maintain balance, feel uncomfortable and/or experience negative feelings.

So what do you do if you find your personal values are in direct conflict with the organization where you work or the person in a leadership role in that organization? At times that answer can be fairly straightforward. Animal rights activists should not work for a meat processing plant. If innovation is important to you then working in a franchise—where processes, products, and services are all well-defined—will not be a good fit.

In many, if not the majority of cases, the choice between your values and the organization is much more difficult and complicated. Let’s say you are working for a corporation that is a good fit. You are making a great wage and have a good work/life balance, then there is a change in top management and the new leader makes decisions that are in direct conflict with some of your values. Do you just leave the organization or do you weigh all your values and make a decision based on what you can live with? For example, what if your most important value is providing for your family, do you put this at risk to make a stand on another of your values? Clearly, it’s not always a simple answer.

If an organization does not champion trustworthy, ethical behavior as a core value (hopefully you do) it can result in a toxic work environment that may create:

• Chaos resulting from poor decision making
• High levels of stress and dissatisfaction
• Lack of support
• Scapegoating – mistakes are blamed on others
• Politicking within groups or individuals working behind the scenes to further their own position—quite often at the expense of others.

“If your presence can’t add value to my life, your absence will make no difference.” This unattributed quote could prove to be a gross understatement if you find yourself working in a toxic environment. These noxious workplaces can take over your mind, destroy your confidence, and have the power to inflict lifelong damage. And at times these dog-eat-dog situations can result in you compromising your own values in order to protect your position within the company.

We are all familiar with the effects of stress on our mental and physical well-being. If you are staying at a workplace because providing for your family is your most cherished value and work has reached the point of being too stressful, are you really doing what is best for your family if working there has you suffering mental and physical ailments?

If you are unsure of your values, take the time to sit down and reflect on what is really important to you, then make a list. Also realize that over time your values may change (e.g. early in your career the amount of time spent positioning yourself for advancement may be important, but as your life progresses, spending time with loved ones, or volunteering may become more important).

Don’t stifle personal growth in an organization that no longer aligns with your values. Once you become disenchanted with your present situation it is important to be proactive and search for a better fit because your unhappiness or unwillingness to compromise your values could force a change in employment that takes place before you are actually ready. Typically it’s easier to get a job when you already have a job.

Change can sometimes be scary, but leaving such an environment can be quite liberating. It can return balance to your life where once again all is right with the world.

Rick Brammer is president and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. We offer pre-service collection solutions as well as traditional back-end collections. Visit our website at or call 877-723-2902.


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