Workhuman Editorial Team
8 min read
For your organization to thrive in today's fast-paced business environment, you need to have a strong sense of what matters most to you as a company. Sound obvious? Often, it's not, as it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day responsibilities of work and lose sight of what's most important to your organization.
Enter company core values.
A company’s core values are incredibly important in establishing a human workplace. They're what make your organization "tick" - and they're what inspire both your employees and your customers. Let's look at some company values examples to drive this point home.
Company values are the principles and moral standards that the company upholds, like a compass that points the team in the right direction.
The core company values serve as a guide to the actions of the team members and add meaning to their work. Company culture is rooted in these principles, which greatly influence business operations for both customers and employees.
So, how exactly does work culture affect employee satisfaction? Let’s take a look at some of the figures.
Sadly, only 23% of survey respondents claim that their company values are fitting or practical.
That being said, it’s not enough to write up these principles. Rather, executives and employees alike will benefit more if they take ownership and enact the company’s core values in their workplace environment.
Most organizations have a mission statement. It might hang on a wall in the corporate office lobby, near the HR department, or as a screensaver background. It may even come with a set of values intended to help employees sync their behaviors and work habits. But do they?
Employees with a sense of meaning and purpose – whose personal values align with company values – are more than 4x as likely to love their jobs. Therefore, it’s crucial to articulate those values clearly and demonstrate how they can come to life at your organization.
Plus, happier employees and a better employee experience are good for your bottom line.
According to a study of over 700 participants from the University of Warwick, happiness increased productivity by an average of 12% and reached as high as 20% above the control group.
Core values represent an organization’s highest priorities, deeply held beliefs, and fundamental driving forces. They’re your guiding principles – who you are, what you believe, and who you want to be – and serve as promises about how your organization will treat customers, employees, vendors, and community members. In short, they’re the DNA of your culture.
Building a truly human work culture becomes particularly important when recruiting and retaining millennial talent – a vital challenge as financial service organizations struggle to bridge their skills gap.
HR Financial Services states,
“Retaining employees is of vital importance in an industry where, according to a PwC report, only 10% of millennials plan to work for the long-term… Financial service organizations need to be employing a variety of employee retention strategies to hang on to their best employees.”
IBM/Workhuman®research offers some insights into how to engage and retain valued employees: “Financial services sector employees who experience a sense of belonging, purpose, achievement, happiness, and vigor perform at higher levels and are more likely to report they contribute ‘above and beyond’ expectations. They are also less likely to quit.
"Employees with more positive experiences at work are much more likely to report significantly higher levels of discretionary effort (96% compared to 55%).”
Company values determine the climate in the workplace. It’s a factor that may drive good employees to leave or stay.
When defining your company values, they can be a short but impactful phrase, an elaborate sentence, or a single word. Whatever form they take, they should clearly define your company’s mission and influence your customers’ and employees’ lives in a positive way.
Here are the attributes of well-structured core company values:
Choose company values that every team member can relate to and apply to their work. Otherwise, they could look meaningless on the board.
Keep in mind that writing down seemingly noble values without adhering to them is pointless. If, for example, your company value is to “strive for greatness” but you can't show up to meetings on time, then maybe you’re better off picking another phrase.
While it’s okay to be ambitious—beneficial, even—a core value becomes more significant if it’s relatable and realistic.
When you’re in the process of crafting your core principles, be sure to refer to your company’s vision statement.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that the company vision needs to be well-defined first, as it will be the basis for the values. In essence, the company values support the realization of the vision.
For example, if you see your company becoming the most trusted brand in the world, then ‘integrity’ and ‘transparency’ would hang well together with that vision.
It’s better to craft core values that relate to each other. This helps them be more logical, thus, easier to remember.
With a comprehensive set of core values, your employees will find it easy to determine their next steps. This is because they understand the company’s goals and work accordingly.
Coming up with your organization’s core values isn’t easy. But core values matter, so it’s important to craft values that resonate with the goals and mission of what your company wants to achieve. To get you started, here are some tips on setting core company values:
Successful values are not arbitrarily selected. The best core values need to come from your culture and feed back into it. Citing a Workplace Culture article from Workhuman client LinkedIn, HR Financial Services observes, “86% of millennials would take a pay cut to work at a company whose values they feel are in tune with their own.”
Your values should be unique in the same way your company is unique. Be honest. If your style is irreverent and witty, your values should be too.
If your company is more formal, let your values reflect that. Pick three to seven values and make them memorable and distinctive. A litmus test? Your employees should be able to recite them quickly and easily.
Broad values such as “integrity” or “innovation” can be so vague that they have no real meaning. In such instances, amplify and clarify the meaning of these phrases with taglines or descriptions. For instance, one of the values at Workhuman is “Respect for Quality.” While certainly a cherished value in and of itself, its meaning further comes to life when amplified by its descriptor: “Making good and timely decisions that keep the organization moving forward.”
When your values are too abstract, it makes it almost impossible for your employees to practice them. Instead, promote values that can be brought to life with specific behaviors. For instance, in the case of another one of Workhuman’s values, “Respect for All,” an employee can manifest this value by inviting quiet and introverted people into the conversation during meetings – making them feel comfortable and empowered to share their ideas.
Company values challenge us to innovate and improve because that’s where growth is.
Check out these two statements and ask yourself which one would motivate you and your teammates better:
Both statements could pass for a core company value, except the second one is more actionable. Also, it poses a challenge to do just one thing better, albeit just a little.
There’s nothing wrong with using generic core values as long as they’re relevant to your organization and company vision. However, it hits differently if they have an element that’s unique to your business.
They’ll somehow give the members a sense of ownership and pride over your company values. So, there’s a good chance that there’ll be less need for reminders.
Change comes with growth; it’s inevitable. The people, the market, technology — nothing will be the same in the next few years.
So, adapt and update your corporate values when you see fit. At some point, you’ll find this change to be necessary, and that’s totally fine.
Crafting your organization’s values is a meticulous process. But don’t worry. We’re here with 14 company core value examples to get the creative juices flowing. Keep in mind, though, that these are just starting points. Each value you choose should be followed by a descriptor so that they’re more specific.
This is most applicable to companies that offer products and services. Needless to say, the success of a business relies heavily on the quality of user experience it provides.
More than just the purpose of doing business, though, it helps to remember that customers or clients are humans who come to you with needs. Therefore, providing a solution and contributing to the betterment of the community may be great moral codes to live by.
Integrity is among the most common core values, so leaders have devised creative ways to rephrase it. Take Google’s list of company values, for example.
One of which is ‘You can make money without doing evil.’ When you think about it, it all boils down to moral integrity.
However, Google came up with this statement to make it its own, which is creative, concise, and admirable.
Growth shouldn’t scare you if you want to advance personally and professionally.
Growth follows curiosity and the hunger for continuous learning. So, if you want to go after knowledge and experience, understand that you won’t find it in your comfort zone.
Therefore, be curious about foreign concepts and cultures. Encourage yourself and your teammates to ask questions.
Otherwise, how else are you going to get answers?
This is another classic. You may define innovation as a new and original creation or idea. To come up with an innovation, you must possess the necessary skills or talents, such as creativity and resourcefulness.
Being innovative may also refer to working smart. Over the years, it’s found to be more effective than simply working hard, as it doesn’t always equate to concrete results.
The beauty of ‘innovation’ as a core value is that it applies to most industries and institutions, if not all.
If you’re considering ‘optimism’ for your company values, we suggest you try ‘resilience.’
Optimism is a disposition, or simply looking at the bright side of things, no matter how gloomy it gets.
However, refusing to acknowledge the negative aspects of life may not have a positive impact, either. There’s a possibility of attracting false positivity, which may be as destructive as pessimism.
On the flip side, resilience entails a definite call to action. That is to bounce back at every rejection and get back up after you fall.
Let’s clarify the definition of humility by focusing first on its antonyms: pride and arrogance. Exaggerated confidence breeds the two aforementioned opposites of humility, which is usually far from reality.
Humility, on the other hand, centers on the truth and reality. The idea is that, regardless of your own achievements, you can remain modest and friendly towards colleagues.
Why settle for good if you can be great, right? A characteristic of a successful person or company is openness to challenges.
A good example is Relativity, the maker of the communication surveillance platform RelativityOne.
Among its core statements is ‘Enjoy and be great at your job.’ Relativity elaborates on this company value as loving what they do. As a result, they become better at it.
Supervisors and colleagues usually favor a proactive team member. The reason is that they don’t need elaborate instructions or close supervision, which makes them a delight to work with.
Also, they tend to do more than what’s expected of them. They’re not scared of taking responsibility, so you may also describe them as a go-getter.
Taking initiative is a huge advantage in the workplace because it entails efficiency and productivity.
Feeling motivated is easy if you know your work has a purpose. In addition, there’s a feeling of pride in knowing that you’re part of the bigger picture.
When team members feel you value their contributions, it gives them a sense of purpose. So, make sure to communicate this well within your organization.
How? By discussing everyone’s role in the company and what you’re trying to achieve collectively. Don’t treat them like they’re just another cog in the wheel; make sure to give credit where it’s due.
A lack of growth in a company is a common reason why good employees leave. Some activities that foster personal and professional growth include training performance assessments.
A beneficial by-product of ensuring team members’ growth is being able to groom or put the right person for the job. This way, everyone grows with the company.
Workhuman Platform® has valuable tools for collaboration, communication, and tracking individual and collective progress. It also has an avenue for celebrating life events and milestones to ensure employee satisfaction.
Respect is a broad topic, so you’ll need to elaborate on this with the team.
So, let’s start with respect for people’s time. This is a common issue, proving that it’s not respected well enough.
When you respect your colleagues’ and customers’ time, you come to meetings on time. Respect may also apply to other areas, such as fostering a sense of inclusion and belonging.
Nobody likes to work with a person who’s quick to find something or someone to blame when problems occur.
What we want to see in the workplace is people taking accountability for what’s assigned to them and owning it. What’s more, they’re open to constructive criticism and eager to work on improvement.
Passion may be all-inclusive and applicable to various businesses and teams. It can refer to work dedication or fervor in promoting the organization’s advocacies.
It can also mean passion toward other values, like respect and acceptance of diversity.
The Kellogg Company, better known as Kellogg’s, could be the epitome of this core value, being among the 50 best companies for diversity.
Trust is elemental to any business and organization. To foster trust, team members should practice honesty and transparency.
More often than not, customers and employees appreciate a straightforward approach. They’d prefer that you tell them about a problem upfront than to find out about it later on.
Trust us, the broken trust isn’t worth averting confrontation.
So what do you do after crafting company values and statements? Implement them.
Your values should be part of your company’s internal and external language. They should appear on your website, connect with company initiatives, and be included in internal events, so employees have hands-on opportunities to practice them.
As you help your employees grow, use your values as a framework to set goals and measure achievements. Such a process is about growth and development and helps create a culture where people are comfortable giving feedback up, down, and across an organization. It’s about helping employees – and the organizations they work for – realize their full promise and potential.
Each day you’re in the office or on a call, be an inspiration and a model for practicing your company values. Make it a part of the DNA that shapes your actions – and inspire others to do the same.
Peer-to-peer employee recognition – coupled with a tangible reward – is the gold standard for making values livable. When someone demonstrates one of your company values, make sure there is an opportunity for co-workers to publicly appreciate them for it.
One of the best ways to do just that is through company wide employee recognition, supported by a platform such as Workhuman’s Social Recognition® solution. In fact, 92% of employees agree that when they’re recognized for specific actions at work, they feel more appreciated. They’re also 2x as likely to be engaged.
This approach affirms your employees’ behavior, motivates others to follow suit, and builds a positive – and productive – culture of recognition.
Print values out and place them on a nice frame. Then, hang it in a conspicuous and strategic place at the office so everyone can see it daily.
This serves more than a decorative purpose. The goal is to promote familiarization until everyone knows your values by heart.
This isn’t supposed to be a nagging reminder but a means to prevent the company from straying too far from its purpose. Changing the core company values on the wall will motivate the organization to maintain a certain standard.
Team members should ground every decision, big or small, to the core company values. This applies to managers and other top offices and to every position and level.
So, discussing each core value with the team and how you expect them to apply these principles to their work is a good start. Also, it’ll help everyone manage their expectation to avoid expecting over or under individual or collective capacity.
Additionally, you can gather feedback from members during the discussion. Grab this opportunity to hear their insight; their input might surprise you.
You can also ask yourself: Are the core values still applicable to the current trends and overall situation? Did the company undergo rebranding?
These are things that the leaders in an organization may overlook due to their heavy responsibilities. Therefore, it’s a healthy practice to take the time to listen to your colleagues and subordinates for what they have to say.
Before you can influence people to act according to the company’s core values, run a self-assessment first.
Ask yourself if you’re exercising the organization’s beliefs. Otherwise, you may not be in the position to persuade others to do it as well.
It’s also a good practice to evaluate the quality of your work and your attitude towards it against the core values.
If you don’t check all the boxes, look into the areas that fit and try not to go below that standard. For the values you missed, find out the cause and think of ways to improve those aspects.
Don’t be too hard on yourself when self-evaluating; you can’t expect a perfect score every time, but always strive to improve.
You’ll want to make sure that you’re working with the right people. By right people, it's individuals who live by similar principles and moral codes.
New members easily fit in if the culture is familiar and exhibit the same level of professionalism as the rest of the group.
Values are beliefs that guide an individual or group. These beliefs influence a person’s behavior and decisions as to what’s deemed to be right or ethical.
Values may be taught and learned.
Thus, it’s important to be transparent about your values to attract like-minded people into your circle.
People sometimes use these terms interchangeably, but they are two distinct concepts. However, both may influence a group or individual’s perception of right from wrong and good from bad.
Principles are non-negotiable, unquestionable standards. You may compare them to natural laws that go beyond culture.
Moral values, on the other hand, are more subjective and adaptable.
One of the most common company values is ‘teamwork’ for a good reason.
Companies and organizations comprise teams, after all. That said, companies won’t likely function well without this, no matter how cliché.
Other core values, including customer-centric codes, integrity, respect, honesty, fairness, accountability, and diversity closely follow it.
Any organization that’s bound to succeed must be open to the changes that come with growth. These transitions, at some point, may feel overwhelming, and that’s where the core company values come into play. They're a 'north star' guiding the company in the right direction - and bringing customers and employees alike along for the journey.
What are your company's core values? If you're unsure, our list of company value examples is a good place to start.
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