How to Create Core Company Values that Stick

Company culture and employee engagement are consistent buzzwords in the payroll and HR industry, and for good reason. But the backbone of a great company culture and engaged employees are core company values. And while it’s easy to generate a few trending topics to attract recent graduates and top talent, having defined values truly connects qualified people to your business.

But how do you know what values reflect the goals and culture of your business?

Why core values are important to the life of your business

Core values connect your employees and your clients with your business’s purpose. The connection helps employees see past their everyday responsibilities and to the larger goals of the company, which is why core values should be chosen carefully, and not based on trends or buzzwords. Because once you lay out a core value, it’s your duty to live up to it. If you’re hypocritical or consistently fall short of those values, customers and employees alike will take notice.

Core values are essential to attracting and retaining the best new talent in the marketplace. According to Forbes, millennial's place a great deal of value on a company’s values and culture.  So much so that a company’s culture ranks among pay and benefits when considering future employment. For current employees, the core values your company abides by can be the difference between strong engagement and prolonged productivity or burnout and high turnover.

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Less is more when it comes to your company’s mission

The core values behind your company do not have to be extensive. Often, the simpler the mission, the better. Try to focus on three to five core pillars of your business that accurately speak to the goals and vision of your business. Fluffy feel-good sentiments won’t mean much if they aren’t accurate.

Think about it this way: when you’re speaking to a potential client, what aspects of your business do you highlight? Is customer service a tenant of your business model? What about accountability or due diligence? Write down what comes up frequently and paint them on the wall.

How to identify core values of your business

Now that we’ve identified why accurate core values are important, let’s examine how to write the best values for your business to engage the best employees and attract and retain customers.

1. Start with your mission statement. Usually a company’s mission statement can be molded into independent values. The values derived from the mission statement don’t have to relay action, (although they can), but rather the sentiments behind the actionable words of your business’s purpose.

2. Write out the values as simply as possible. The easier it is to communicate core values, the better chance they have of being sustainable. If you can’t distill your core values into simple language, start again. Potential candidates shouldn’t be reaching for straws trying to identify what you stand for.

3. Display core values openly and often. Make sure they’re easily accessible on your company website and social media and include them in employee onboarding materials, as well as throughout the office. Displaying core values openly holds both upper management and entry-level employees to the same standards.

4. Lastly, conduct yourself and your business by the core values you’ve established. Whatever you identify as critical to your business, make sure members in leadership positions hold themselves to these standards. By setting a clear example, employees are more likely to follow in the same footsteps.

How do you want the world to see you? That’s what a company’s core values are all about. They shouldn’t be a flashy slogan or quotable catchphrase, but rather a statement reflecting how you want your business to act in the marketplace.