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Why company core values are important and how to decide what they should be

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Last editedMay 20212 min read

What does your company stand for? Defining your core values can help you refine your internal processes with purpose, improving both employee and customer satisfaction along the way. If you’re not sure where to begin, our guide will help you whittle down what’s most important.

What are core values?

A company’s core values are the central principles of its identity. Every business’s values will be unique, whether they focus on customer satisfaction or treating the environment with respect. You can have quite a lengthy set of company values, or a short but sweet list – it’s endlessly customizable.

Here are a few examples of common business core values:

  • Commitment

  • Innovation

  • Respect

  • Accountability

  • Trust

What all of these values have in common is that they are long-term foundations of what a company stands for. While a mission statement focuses more on a company’s forward-driving goals, looking at what makes it tick, core values should be its pillars. They include all the philosophies, beliefs, and experiences you share at every level, from shareholder to end client.

The importance of company values

Now that we’ve answered the question of ‘what are core values’ it’s time to look at why they’re so important in business. Here are just a few benefits of identifying your values:

  1. Employee satisfaction: Developing and sharing a core set of values is useful when building a talented, motivated team. You can work your values into every step of the recruitment and onboarding process to find team members that share the same ideals. This creates deeper engagement, while fostering a more productive working environment.

  2. Customer satisfaction: Customer-focused core values like quality service help boost satisfaction amongst new and existing clients. If you work with the public, you’ll want to put a heavier focus on excellent service.

  3. Business development: Along with your business plan and mission statement, company core values provide the roadmap to growth. For example, if one of your values is sustainable development, you’d be looking for ways to develop products using sustainably sourced raw materials.

  4. Brand development: What sets your company apart from competitors? A unique, strong set of core values will help show how you’re different from the rest. Business values can be woven into your marketing materials, website, and social media so that your brand identity is clear to all stakeholders.

How to define your business core values

Although it’s best to define these values right from the start, it’s never too late. You might also find that as your company grows and changes, core values shift along with it. No matter the timing, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What value does your business provide?

  • How do you practice corporate social responsibility?

  • What are you most proud of?

  • What are you passionate about?

  • Are you involved with the local community?

  • Do you think globally?

  • Do you focus on employee development?

  • What brings your employees together?

  • How have you faced difficult situations in the past?

  • Are customers at the heart of your services?

Get the full team together for a day of discussion or ask stakeholders for suggestions if you get stuck. You might end up with some fresh ideas that wouldn’t immediately jump out.

Bringing company core values to life

What’s important to remember is that you can’t simply make up core values out of nowhere. They have to come from your business’s actions. Once defined, you need to practice what you preach and live your values as well as defining them.

Values are meaningless if nobody is aware of them, so look for ways to bring them into your brand identity. This extends from recruitment to marketing and client interaction. If asked, every employee should immediately be able to identify your business core values. You can incentivize this with a rewards program linked to actions that demonstrate commitment to the value system. This brings all parties on board, with greater chance of sharing the vision.

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