Values. They’re more than just words on a poster. Workplace values can determine your company’s culture and have a direct impact on its bottom line.

And it doesn’t take Enron-level transgressions to undermine your workplace values. Even small actions can affect employee engagement, productivity, absenteeism and safety. What’s more, failing to uphold workplace values can also affect your recruiting and retention efforts.

According to Deloitte Global’s 2016 Millennial Survey, 56 percent of millennials have “ruled out ever working for a particular organization because of its values or standard of conduct.”

While some companies, like Twitter, Edelman, Google and Southwest Airlines, manage to get it right, the reality is that upholding workplace values isn’t always easy. For example, most companies will agree that respect, integrity and accountability are important core values. Yet it’s not uncommon for businesses large and small to engage in such actions as:

  • Cutting corners to meet a budget or schedule.
  • Lying to avoid a confrontation or difficult conversation.
  • Being too busy to provide proper guidance and training to staff.
  • Rewarding “star” performers who bend the rules to get results.
  • Using guilt or intimidation as “leadership” tactics.

So how can you bring your workplace values to life? Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Lead by example: Expect senior management to set the tone by modeling the right behaviors.
  • Teach, don’t preach: Hold group sessions to allow staff to discuss and define how corporate values apply to daily decisions and responsibilities.
  • Reward the right behaviors: Recognize and reward those who embody values-based behavior.
  • Address noncompliance: Take appropriate action to discipline individuals who fail to uphold workplace values.
  • Recruit the right people: Emphasize workplace values during the interview process to make sure that those you hire, whether college recruits or senior executives, will be the right fit for your business.

Offering proper training, tools and guidance, and demanding accountability at every level of your organization, will give employees the leadership and support they need to bring your workplace values to life.