What are company values?
Company values are the internal beliefs, ethics and guiding morals upon which a business bases its objectives and business practices. Company values guide business owners and employees in making important decisions that determine the success of the organization. For example, company values can help determine how employees communicate with each other, how your business treats customers and who you choose to hire. There are no right or wrong company values. Instead, it’s more important that your company’s values align with its actions.
A few examples of company values include:
- Continuous improvement
- Customer commitment
- Making a difference
Why are company values important?
Core business values can help you make important business decisions about hiring, training, short- and long-term strategy and leadership techniques. They can also shape employee behaviors, your company culture and impact both external and internal business practices.
An employee who agrees with the core business values of a company and who works for an employer whose values align with their own is also more likely to be satisfied with their role. According to an Indeed survey, 28% of job seekers said that if a company’s mission/vision doesn’t resonate with their personal values, they might reconsider accepting an offer from that company — even if the job meets all of their personal requirements and they have a positive interview experience.*
Having defined company values can also guide hiring managers in choosing employees that best align with your company culture, goals and mission.
Additionally, current and potential customers and clients will often evaluate many things when considering whether or not to do business with a company, including their values and how well they demonstrate them. When a customer’s values align with your company’s, they’re often more likely to continue doing business with you.
How to define your company values
Coming up with your company values can feel like a daunting task, but you can define your company values using the following simple steps:
1. Consider why you started your business
Start by considering the driving factors and motivators that led you into business. Perhaps you wanted to assist other business owners or you wanted to fill a consumer need with a product or service. These motivators can serve as the foundation of your company values.
For example, if your goal is to always be honest with customers, then integrity could be one of your company values. If you offer sustainable and environmentally-friendly products, then you might include a dedication to eco-friendly practices as one of your corporate values.
2. List your personal values
It’s also important to be authentic when creating your company values. While you want to choose values that make sense in your industry, you also want them to align with your own personal values. Customers and employees can often easily tell if a company truly lives by its values or if its values are insincere.
It can be useful to come up with a list of your own personal values and then consider how they contribute to your idea of business success. For example, What values do you want to be known for in your industry? What values do you relate to in the companies you admire? How do you make important decisions in your personal life? Asking these questions can help you come up with a list of your most important personal values.
3. Determine what values your customers expect
Another important part of connecting your personal values to your company values is to understand the expectations of your ideal customer. Consider what values are the norm in your industry to give you some ideas for your own. However, since each business is unique, your values should also be unique. What makes your business stand out from the rest? Why do customers buy from you in particular? Determine your unique selling proposition (USP) to help you come up with unique values.
It can also be helpful to imagine your ideal customer and determine what their values are. For example, if you want to attract customers within a certain age group, think about some of the common values they hold.
4. Ask employees what their personal values are
Consider what values your employees have. Try sending out a survey or holding focus groups to narrow in on what your employees think is important. After all, it’s much easier to live by your company values when employees truly identify with them.
It can also be helpful to think about what values you look for when hiring employees. For instance, you might look for values like integrity, honesty, compassion or passion. Other business owners might value employees who are positive, dependable, motivated or confident. By first imagining your ideal employee and what they are like, you can get a better idea of which company values are the most important to you.
Related: How to Find Good Employees
5. Imagine the values of your ideal team
Because many companies rely on teams to meet company goals, it can also be useful to consider your ideal team. Think about what actions you prefer your team members to take. Consider which values are important in a larger team setting. Important team values might include things like organization, communication leadership or collaboration.
6. Make your values actionable
The true test of your proposed company values is for each one to be actionable. Instead of just theories, ideas or buzzwords that look good on paper, your company values should be reflected in what your company does on a day-to-day basis. That’s why after you’ve created a list of values that you believe align with your company goals, it’s important to consider how each one can be actionable. Consider specific ways that you, individual employees, teams and the organization as a whole can demonstrate these values.
Examples of company values
Here are several examples of company values to help you come up with your own. Notice how each company has chosen values that reflect their company culture, mission and goals:
- We back our customers
- We win as a team
- We embrace diversity
- We make it great
- We support our communities
- We do what’s right
- We respect people
- We stand for inclusion
- Open company, no BS
- Build with heart and balance
- Don’t #@!% the customer
- Play, as a team
- Be the change you seek
- Focus on impact
- Move fast
- Be bold
- Be open
- Build social value
- We sell the highest quality natural and organic foods
- We satisfy and delight our customers
- We promote team member growth and happiness
- We practice win-win partnerships with our suppliers
- We create profits and prosperity
- We care about our community and the environment
*Indeed survey, n=10,000