The world of business is ever-changing; digital transformation can come with many benefits, such as streamlining workflows, saving time and improving customer satisfaction. However, without a consistent set of values to explain and inform your team’s actions, the process lacks vision, purpose and structure. This leads to a lack of engagement. Keep reading to find out why defined company principles are important and how to develop them.  

What are core business values?

Values are a statement of what your business stands for, and the behaviours that are encouraged in order to fulfil those values. Essentially, they act as a moral compass, to a degree, as they help to establish your principles and the way you react with both team members and customers.

They are likely to differ according to the goals, industry and workplace environment of the company. However, their main purpose is to be reflective of the company’s ideal social, ethical and operational standards. 

Core value examples

Values like “teamwork” and “efficiency” generally represent examples of aspirational values, as opposed to core ones. These more generic examples are widely used; in fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, 55% of all Fortune 100 companies would argue that integrity is a core value, with 40% of said companies citing teamwork as a core value.

Core business values play a more active role in defining an organisation’s purpose, mission and goals. They can include

  • Accountability 
  • Reliability 
  • Quality delivery 
  • Meeting deadlines 
  • Tolerance
  • Compliance with laws, regulations and policy 
  • Empowerment 
  • Work-life balance 
  • Exemplary leadership
  • Respect 
  • Inclusivity 
  • Compassion 
  • Social and environmental consciousness
  • Workplace transparency 

business values
Image by on Freepik

Why is it important to have meaningful values?

They act as trust signals 

Essentially, having dishonest or hollow values can sabotage your company’s efforts in a variety of ways. These include reducing employee morale, as well as breeding customer mistrust, as your credibility and sincerity is brought into question. 

They can increase your hiring prospects 

Additionally, business values can also affect the success of the hiring process. When candidates are looking at applying to your company, they are likely to be researching your organisation’s values. This will give them an understanding of your managerial and team dynamics, as well as what they can expect from the company as a whole. A Glassdoor survey found that 77% of workers would consider the culture of an organisation before they applied to work there.

Similarly, as much as people should consider your company’s values when they are searching for a job, you should consider theirs. It is important that the principles of applicants align with your company values, but simultaneously offer something new.

They promote an engaged, unified & inclusive workforce 

Explaining the purpose behind why your company does what it does will help increase employee motivation, thereby increasing productivity and engagement.

Similarly, it is important to welcome the perspectives of your employees when it comes to influencing your workplace’s core business values. Each individual comes with their own unique background, leading to a wealth of perspectives and new ideas to explore. Making sure that every voice is heard will help ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

Ultimately, the more involved they are in creating the set of values, the more likely employees will be to find value in, or engage in, their day-to-day work. Similarly, a toxic working environment is 10.4 times more likely to lead to resignation than any other factors. That is why employee happiness and a positive work culture is essential. 

Ultimately, if all of your employees are on the same page, this will help them work in a more synchronised way as a team. Additionally, regularly mentioning the strategy and making sure that everyone involved in it will help people to feel a higher level of involvement and importance. 

Having clear, ethical principles is vital in today’s workplaces. You can learn why fostering workplace inclusion is vital in this guide by Walking the Talk.

Helps team members let go of their work

When you have worked on a project or particular area for a long time, it can often be hard to step away from it. An understanding of the purpose behind any large organisational changes can be key in helping ease employees into the transition. 

Builds customer trust

Clearly defined values and ethics are key in establishing customer trust. If you are up-front with what your company is all about, customers are more likely to buy from you. Studies show that 94% of customers are likely to be more loyal to brands that are transparent, while 56% cite that transparency would make them “loyal for life”.

How to define your values

1. Understand your priorities 

Before you begin to welcome feedback from team members, you should consider your priorities. What is most important to you? Is it, for example, quality work, or is it meeting a hard deadline? You should analyse your current working environment, as well as its pain points and strengths. 

It is also important to consider your values in the context of the wider company vision. For example: how will your values help you achieve or maintain your goals? 

2. Involve your team

Once you have worked out your priorities, it is time to take the discussion to your team. You should encourage them to think about the values they see among high performing team members. Once you have identified a list, you can then narrow this down into five or so values to focus on initially.

Observing your team’s behaviour can also help you get the most of your values, by encouraging positive actions. You should also continuously gather input on a one-to-one and team basis for accurate and up-to-date feedback. 

3. Discuss how you can demonstrate your values

Once you have narrowed down your list, you should then come up with ways to encourage and demonstrate these values across all levels of the organisation.

The definitions of your values should be clear, concise and easy to replicate. It may be helpful to provide examples of how these can be demonstrated through day-to-day work. 

Values that are seamlessly integrated into existing processes and practised by leaders will help ingrain them into your organisation. Similarly, a lack of consistency can result in behaviours reverting to their previous state and a lack of unity in the standard of work produced.

4. Re-assess your values continuously

Once you have implemented your new values into working life, it is important to regularly assess them. Are they working in your current processes? Are your employees resonating with them? Do they help guide the company’s goals? If not, then you should regularly adjust them as needed.

Define your values; secure your future

Ultimately, establishing and maintaining your core workplace values is an ongoing process. As the world, your employees, and your company evolves – so should your core principles. A clear, honest and authentic set of key principles will help establish trust and unity across your company, as well as with customers. 

Your values will be the driving force through periods of change and growth, helping you strive for success for years to come.

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