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Your company values are the core of your business. They define your goals, your team, and how the world views you. This guide will give you an overview of what makes a good company value, how to define it clearly for your team, and how to implement it effectively throughout your business. We’ll also look at how you can evolve your values and use them to form partnerships and solidify your brand.
Why Company Values Are So Important
Company values can (and should) impact everything your business does. A little like a mission statement, company values define your business and help you hire employees, make decisions, and attract new clients. They also help keep your whole team on the same page and working toward the same overall goals.
Many companies use their values during their hiring process to hire workers who are right for the team. Values are also extremely useful in terms of employee retention and performance. If you want to attract superstar talent to your team, you need to establish yourself as a business people want to work with.
Your values will also be a vital part of forming partnerships and branding. Clients and other businesses want to work with companies that share their beliefs, and defining clear, actionable values will help you connect with the right audience and grow your brand.
An example of a brand famous for having strong values that they follow through on is Ben and Jerry’s. Unlike many businesses, their values revolve around philanthropy and human rights. For instance, Ben and Jerry’s hire ex-convicts as part of their value of “social and economic justice.”
This is a great example of why taking a strong stand in your values works–not everyone will agree with what Ben and Jerry’s is doing, but for people who DO share these values, they’ll be much happier to support the brand and buy their products. It also lets customers know that they can rely on Ben and Jerry’s to follow through on promises, boosting consumer trust.
Having strong values and taking a stand lets your audience and team know whether you’re the right company for them. You can’t please everyone, but you also shouldn’t be trying to. Like with branding, you should aim your values at your target market and then use those values to dictate how you run your business.
Quick Tips to Improve Your Company Values Today
It might seem easy to write a list of things your company stands for, but it’s possible to create values that just confuse your clients and team.
When coming up with values, a few strategies will help you create ones that are clear, relevant, and that resonate with your team. A great way to do this is by rewarding employees who exemplify the values and getting everyone involved in the creation process.
You can make this easy by using employee engagement software that lets you celebrate employees, ask for their opinions, and send them information about team goals. One of the best tools you can use for this is 15Five.
15Five makes it easy for you to keep everyone on your team connected and share company-wide goals that make your values actionable. You can also send employees feedback or request it, making it easy to celebrate employees who exemplify your values and get feedback on how you can improve your values together as a business.
Pricing also starts as low as $4 per month, making it a super affordable way to ensure your values are working and that you’re encouraging your team to follow them.
But even with the best software in the world, you still need to make sure your values are clear, helpful and that they represent the ethos of your company.
Here are some ways to improve your values and make sure they’re more than empty words.
Make Them Unique
When you start defining your company values initially, it’s really easy to get sucked into using buzzwords that sound good on paper but are difficult to implement in real life.
You can say that one of your values is “passion,” but what does that look like? Is it something your employees can easily follow or that you can measure across your business?
Making your values detailed and tailored to your business will make it a lot easier for your entire team and clients to get on board. People outside your business might not recognize buzzwords, so using clear, simple language will help your customers feel more included and connected with you.
A great example of someone doing this is Google. Take a look at their first few values:
There are no buzzwords there–just clear sentences that Google then explains further. Anyone, whether a customer, team member, or investor, can understand a sentence like “It’s best to do one thing really, really well.”
When you’re creating values that are unique to your business, ask yourself questions like:
What makes your business different? Why did you start your business?How will your business change the world? What is your bottom line? How do you want your business to be remembered? What do you want customers to say about you?
Thinking about how you can develop clear, personalized values that align with your core business will make it easier for you to use your values in a way that benefits your growth.
Involve Your Whole Team
An excellent way to make sure that your values reflect your business is to involve your whole team in the decision process.
You want your values to be things that your team feels passionately about. Asking them what they want to see from the business and what they want to work toward is the easiest way to make sure everyone’s engaged.
Ask your team what they think of the values, if they feel the values reflect the company, and if they would change anything. This could be through a meeting, email survey, or feedback software, like 15Five.
The other benefit to involving your whole team in the value process is that it helps boost employee retention. People like to work at companies that make them feel valued and essential–and showing that you trust your team with something as important as core values can improve employee satisfaction and make them feel more connected to the business.
Keep Your Values Simple
Another way that you can make sure your company values are effective is to keep them simple.
You might feel the need to explain the idea behind each value–but don’t. The right values shouldn’t need explanation. They should be clear in one sentence.
Take our example with Google. Yes, they explained each value, but they’d still work if you didn’t have the explanations. A great example of simplicity is “Commitment to Customers.” This is simple, to the point, and easy to remember but provides an obvious benefit and is actionable for the team.
Having a few simple values will make it easier for you to incorporate them into interviews and team meetings. You should also try to avoid having too many. Although Google has 10 listed, the sweet spot for most businesses is around five or six.
To ensure your values are simple, run them by a few people who are not part of your business. Ask them to explain to you what they think they mean. If their explanations are wildly different from what you envisioned, it means that the value isn’t clear enough and needs work.
Keep Your Customers in Mind
Your values are important for your team and your ethos, but they’re also crucial for branding.
Increasingly, clients and customers only want to work with businesses that share their values. When you sit down to decide what your company values will be, you need to consider your audience.
What types of values will resonate with them? What kinds of values align with your mission statement and your services? If you’re a nonprofit, your audience will expect values related to transparency and integrity. But if you’re a fashion brand, you might have values that revolve around customer care and creativity.
This is where your “why” comes in. Your values should show your customers why your business exists and what makes you different. These could be values that you feel will change your industry or ethical values your company cares about, like sustainability.
Use your values to add personality to your brand and connect with your customers.
Make Them Visual
When you create your company values, something else to consider is how easily employees can learn and remember them.
As great as Google’s language is on their values page, they didn’t include any visual elements. The big chunks of text might be valuable, but they’ll also be challenging for employees to learn and remember at first.
You want to make it easy for employees to understand the values and follow them.
A great way to do this is to make your values visual through the use of graphics. Take a look at Keap’s values page:
Having those graphics makes it easier to remember the values. It also makes it a lot easier for Keap to distribute them throughout the business. After all, it’s easy to add cute graphic values to a wall in the office or at the bottom of emails.
Link Your Values To Goals
As mentioned, you want your values to be actionable. One of the best ways you can do this is to link your values to company goals. Let your employees know how each value fits into your business plan, how they can implement it into their work, and how it benefits them in the long run.
If your goal is to have the best customer service globally, choose values that focus on exceptional customer experiences. If you want to be the first company using only solar power, make sure that sustainability and innovation are part of your values.
Letting your team know why you’ve created the values, where they fit into your business goals, and how they can use those values in their work will make it easier for your team to get excited about and actively engage with them.
Long-Term Strategies for Successful Company Values
Once you’ve defined your company values, you need to make sure they’re working and that they’re benefiting your business. There’s no point in having a list of values that no one follows or doesn’t bring anything to your company.
Here are some strategies you should implement to ensure your values keep working for you and making an impact.
Create an Employee Recognition Program
The best way to ensure your values are being implemented into the company is to praise and reward employees who are getting it right. Using an employee recognition scheme that allows team members to nominate and celebrate each other is a simple way to keep the values relevant and exciting.
Having an employee recognition scheme works for several reasons:
It creates a positive company culture and rewards employees, boosting morale and retention.It encourages employees to actively work towards the values and incorporate them into their work.It helps identify real-life examples of the values that can improve clarity and help employees understand how to actively follow them.
There are lots of great employee recognition software out there, including 15Five. They even have a specific hashtag feature designed for celebrating core values!
Check out our list of the best performance management software for some other options to see what might work best for your needs.
Use Your Values in Your Hiring Process
One great way to make sure that your whole team shares the same values is to use them as part of the hiring process.
Not only should you include your values as part of the job description, but you can ask potential employees about their views on them during the interview process.
Ajay Pattani of Perfect Search Media uses the interview process to see if candidates share the company value of taking initiative. “One of my go-to interview questions is: ‘Describe an experience in your last role where you took initiative and created or implemented a process.’”
This is equally as valuable for your team as it is for you. By including your values in the hiring process and giving a little bit of information about the company culture in the job description, candidates get a feel for whether the company is a right fit for them.
Keep Your Values Updated
Of course, you want consistency in your values–but you also want them to grow with your business.
If you’ve expanded or evolved your business, your values might need to change, too. For example, as you make more money, you might decide to incorporate philanthropy into your company’s values.
You could add a value that focuses on sustainability or generosity. Your core values should be a big part of your business, so you don’t want to change them unless necessary, but you also shouldn’t have any redundant or pointless ones.
Having yearly reviews that include feedback from your team will help ensure that your values are relevant and effective and that your company is progressive and matching consumer interest.
Once you’ve put together a list of powerful company values, you can get started on building your business around them. This may be through your marketing, developing new goals, and hiring the right candidates.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re sharing your values as part of your branding and not just amongst your team. Your core values are essential to how your clients interact with you, so make them visible! Keep reviewing and improving your values, and make sure to share them at every opportunity throughout the team.
For more tips on improving company culture and hiring the right people, check out some of our other guides: