Top Company Values, Visualized: Expert and Data-Curated Values That Work

  • Brace
  • June 20, 2019
  • 12 min

What guides the actions of your company and team? Why do employees choose to go the extra mile or to cut corners? The easy answer is core values. Company values are essential for every workplace. They give motivational purpose to actions and guide decisions that benefit the bottom line. We’ll discuss the importance of values in a company, break down key elements, and help you sort through the crowded selection of company values to choose the ones that are right for your organization.

Real Reasons Why Company Core Values Benefit Businesses Big and Small

It’s no surprise to say that the world of business grows ever-more competitive. Leaders and companies have to stay innovative, efficient, and attractive to keep the best talent and stay on top of the game. But you always have an ace in the hole: Implementing and maintaining your organizational values.

Company values (or core values) are defined as the central concepts and beliefs that drive your company and its actions. They guide your organization’s interactions and relationships with customers, employees, and the environment. In this definition itself lies the importance of core values to businesses of all sizes. The purpose of company values is to direct and unify the action of an organization. No one can, or should, control every action of every employee (see: micromanagement). But if the organizational values are well crafted, lived, and respected, then the independent decisions of staff will always lead toward the goals of the company.

6 Benefits of Company Core Values

#Organizational/Company BenefitFunction and Value
1.Align team and companies with one mission.Having every player pushing toward the same goal is integral to all successful teams. Defining these goals is the purpose of organizational values so that everyone’s individual efforts all have the same direction.
2.Bring in the new (Millennial) workforce.Millennials value a sense of purpose in their work more than previous generations. Company values give them that and help you bring in the best new talent that believes in your goal.
3.Find the right new hire.Knowing what direction your workplace needs to go and what drives it lets you find these qualities in candidates. Use your company values to identify who best fits your purpose. (Learn more about culture-fit hiring here).
4.Keep the best talent.With good cultural alignment, turnover sinks by 30%. Drive better retention by defining your company culture through values, and using them to build a great team.
5.Reinforce company identity and guide decisions.Organizational values give your company a clear outline of what you believe and strive for. These then shape and unify how employees and leaders make decisions.
6.Build your company brand.Many successful companies, including the ones below, have used their values to build their brand, thus attracting more, better, and better fitting employees.

The Right Time to Implement Core Values

When should you start writing and implementing your company values? Is your company ever too small (or medium) for values? What if your company is already quite large? The answer is always the same: Start right away.

At least according to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos:

“If I could go back and do Zappos all over again I would actually come up with our values from day one. We actually didn’t always have values. It wasn’t until about five years into it that we rolled out our values.”It’s never too early to start shaping the values that drive your company. The sooner you know your goals and direction, the quicker you can build a team that drives you there. Of course, company values can change over time, for example as a middle-sized company becomes much larger. However, altering the details of organizational values is much easier when you have an existing foundation, and the need for a common direction will always remain.

Checklist: Curated Company Values Examples From Experts

When looking for inspiration for your company values, the selection is overwhelming. Every company has its own set and the list of core values is endless. To help you cut through the chatter and find the useful core elements of organizational values, we collated some data.

By putting a list of 260 company values from 37 companies into our magical data machine, we found the most common themes in company values from amongst the top businesses, big, medium and small. You can see a visualization of the results below.

company values word cloud core values organizational values corporate mission kununu engage

The most used company value is integrity, followed closely by respect and passion.

Your company values, of course, should be individual and tailored to your company culture. With this data, however, you can see the key topics driving most company values from successful companies. Use this checklist as a reference and inspiration. It also helps you ensure that you’ve covered all your bases.

11 Top Company Values Checklist (And 22 Expert Examples)

☐ Integrity

  • “Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.” – Starbucks
  • “Create a Culture of Honesty.” – The Honest Company

☐ Passion

  • “Passion means we use our drive and commitment to energize, engage and inspire others.” – Genentech
  • “Recognize that passion and personality matter.” – Twitter

☐ Customer

  • “Treat customers the way we’d like to be treated.” – Warby Parker
  • “We think customer.” – Virgin Airlines

☐ Leadership

  • “Leadership: The courage to shape a better future.” – Coca Cola
  • “Be the change you seek.” – Atlassian

☐ Company

  • “Grow our business in a way that makes us proud.” – Twitter
  • “Open company, no bullshit.” – Atlassian

☐ Accountability

  • “We own it.” – Keap
  • “Results first, substance over flash.” – Rackspace

☐ Respect

  • “Treat others with respect.” – Southwest Airlines
  • “We strive to show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.” – Ben and Jerry’s

☐ Diversity

  • “Seek diverse perspectives.” – Twitter
  • “Di-bear-sity.” – Build-A-Bear

☐ People

  • “People as the source of our strength.” – EKS&H
  • “We believe in people.” – H & M

☐ Teamwork

  • “Play, as a team.” – Atlassian
  • “Together we make the difference.” – Virgin Airlines

☐ Build and Innovate

  • “Continual self-improvement / self-renewal.” – EKS&H
  • “We are on the offense – always.” – Nike

Runners-Up

Fun

Simplify

Quality

Create

There are 1000’s of other examples and samples to be found. In the end, you’ll have to be creative to make your own individual values for your company. These 11 broad-spectrum values will at least give you the right start to take care of the core of your core values.

How Many Company Values Do You Need?

There is no one magical number. Each company will make as many as they need to live their mission statement and achieve their goals. However, from our data, the average was 7. Some companies, like Google’s “Ten things we know to be true,” swing up to, well, 10. While many others stay around 4-5 organizational values. The final count will be up to you, but try not to go too crazy. A short list of concise, focused, and clear values is more effective than an overwhelming scroll of poorly planned beliefs.

How to Implement Core Values

Company values are meaningless if they aren’t properly applied. Your values need to be lived every day by leadership and team, through hiring and decisions, and even in the unfortunate case of firing. How you do this, you can learn from our core values steps.

Step 1: Create Your Values

This step requires a few steps itself.

  • First, you need to decide whether the top-down or bottom-up approach is right for you. What does this mean, you ask? Simply put, are you going to ask your employees to help create your corporate values (bottom-up)? Or are the core values going to start from above with leadership and be spread throughout (top-down)? Most likely you’ll land somewhere in between.
  • For more info about bottom-up vs top-down approaches, read the details here.
  • Second, write a mission statement for your organization, if you haven’t already. A mission statement clearly and concisely presents what your company is about and why it does what it does. It’s this statement and mission that are fleshed out by your company values.
  • Third, contemplate and draft your company values. This can be done alone, with input from a task force, or contributions from all your employees. If you’re stuck, use the list above for guidance. After you’ve written your draft, make sure to take a few days to review and refine, before making them final. Look here for a good source of expert opinion on creating your corporate values.

Step 2: Communicate Your Core Values

This doesn’t just mean a poster in the break room. Incorporate your values into the hiring process, into meetings, and daily or weekly communications and activities. Rewards and recognition for success are based around these values, as are reprimands. All this together makes one coherent expression of your company values that reaches into every corner of the workplace.

4 ideas for communicating values

  • Weekly or monthly newsletter updating everyone on the status of company, culture, and goals.
  • Regular meetings to discuss the state of the company and culture.
  • A recognition board where employees post how their colleagues’ efforts exemplified individual company values. (We use a kudos board here at kununu engage to great effect, with a kudos category for every one of our values)
  • Rewards based on fulfilling core values. Propellernet utilized this on its way to becoming a Great Place to Work winner.

Step 3: Live Your Organizational Values

Your company values should be behind every step you take. If leadership or company actions contradict your values, then employees will quickly forget them, too. If your value is to “Always be innovative” then you can’t create a culture that punishes thinking outside of the box or making mistakes. Or if one of your values is “Respect” then you can’t tolerate managers who unfairly berate employees. How you manage, make decisions, design your office, handle feedback, and every aspect of the employee experience needs to be influenced by your organizational values. Otherwise, they are simply words on paper.

Step 4: Bring Company Values into Hiring and Onboarding

The employee experience begins before the first day. In the initial interview, you are already showing the candidate what your company stands for and what drives it. Company values need to be clearly understood and lived by all managers, especially by HR and those hiring and onboarding. And the sooner you have your corporate values, the sooner you can build them into new employee processes. Some examples would be including the whole team in onboarding if teamwork is one of your values. Or asking for feedback on the hiring and onboarding process if transparency is a defining belief on your list.

Key Takeaways

  • Company core values drive company success by creating unified direction and goals to enable productive individual effort.
  • Although the data shows that there are at least 11 commonly-used categories for values, your organizational values are individual to your company culture and build on your unique mission statement.
  • Core values must be lived by the whole organization to be effective.
  • It’s never too early to conceive and implement values in a company.

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