Profit Your Bottom Line — Business Core Values And Employee Retention
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When it comes to retaining the best employees, there is no question that your business core values play a significant role. Core values of an organization are like a moral compass in your brand. They act as a set of guidelines that defines the values your brand will live by and how they are applied in the day-to-day operations.
By instilling business core values in your team culture and truly living them out to your customers, you will create an emotionally satisfying brand experience for both current staff members and your audience. Not only can this help bolster employee retention efforts, but it also has a direct impact on the bottom line.
Keep reading this article for more information about why your company’s culture matters in your brand just as much (if not more) than money alone.
What Are Company Core Values?
Business core values are the fundamental beliefs, principles, or guiding tenets that define a company’s culture and shape its overall behavior, both internally and externally. These values serve as a foundation for decision-making, employee behavior, and interactions with customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
They are meant to guide the company’s actions, inform its goals and strategies, and help create a cohesive work environment.
Core values can vary greatly depending on the company’s mission, vision, and industry, but some common examples include:
Acting ethically, honestly, and with transparency in all business dealings.
Encouraging new ideas and continuous improvement to stay ahead in the industry.
Prioritizing customer satisfaction and building strong relationships with clients.
Fostering collaboration and supporting one another to achieve common goals.
Taking responsibility for one’s actions and delivering on commitments.
Striving to deliver the highest quality products and services.
Treating everyone with dignity, valuing diversity, and promoting inclusivity.
Committing to environmentally responsible practices and social responsibility.
Core values should ideally be unique to the company, reflecting its identity and distinguishing it from competitors. Communicating and living by these values helps build a strong company culture, which can lead to higher employee engagement, better performance, and improved reputation.
Business Core Values Are Brand Behavior
Core values are the same as brand values. They are the moral set of principles or guidelines that define the ethics of a company, decisions, and actions of a brand in its day-to-day operations.
Just like us, we each have our own values that shape the way we behave, who we spend our time with, and how we act around others. Values are the principles that we live by and they form our character as people, making us—individual.
These principles will draw people near or far away from us depending on whether or not these principles are aligned. If we have a certain way of behaving or doing every day, then those principles become part of our character and who we are as individuals whether we like it or not.
Since brands are like humans, they interact with consumers and become more intimate in conversation around behavior, therefore, being more personable. The way brands behave takes on an ethical role especially since they drive the mission for consumers in decision-making action. It’s the values that carry on a big-factor of that decision-making process since it would be the experience they’ve had interacting with the brand values.
“Core Values = An enduring set of principles that defines the ethics of a company.”
The brand values are the most sacred in characteristics as people. They are foundationally what makes brands human. As we interact with these brands, we make decisions subconsciously. It’s in our subconscious that we make decisions all based on the feelings and experiences of a brand. This means whether we’ve had a good experience or bad one, we will more often than not, choose the good over the bad.
“95% of thought, emotion, and learning occur in the unconscious mind – that is, without our awareness.”
The principles of your brand, the way it goes about its business, and the experiences that your customers, suppliers, and wider public have with your brand is predicated on the values that it displays through its behavior.
Business Core Values Shape Reputation
Core values set the purpose of the brand, guide behaviors, and bring all the brand representatives and ambassadors together on the same page. Because we are all different people, we all have different personal values. That said, what’s important to one person may not be as important to another. If everybody internally within the brand was to communicate the brand’s audience, their own set of beliefs, and what they believe is important, then different consumers would experience the brand differently.
A lack of consistency throughout any aspect of the brand leads to confusion. That confusion leads to mistrust.
All successful brands are built on trust. Trust builds brand loyalty. At the foundation, it’s critical to outline your values and your behaviors early on in your formation, because values are what’s important in a brand in how it goes about in its daily operations.
“86% of prospective workers wouldn’t seek employment in a company with a bad public image.”
In order to breed consistency in the brand experience and for that matter in all aspects of the brand, core values are one of the most misused tools in branding. Now, most businesses have core values and even put them on their website, but in most cases, the leadership behind that business either has little or no connection to the values displayed, or they don’t even know they exist.
“Disengaged employees are 2.8x more likely to leave their company for a better culture than engaged employees.”
Many values for brands are created purely from a marketing perspective and exist only in words on a website. Much of internal branding is hastily thrown together or skimmed over completely. The reason for this is because there’s a lack of measurable metrics that can justify their existence.
The rise of digital marketing has led to countless measurable metrics that can all be used to confirm the success or failure of marketing tactics. This means that the return on investment (ROI) is measured more on marketing initiatives than on branding because it shows what works or what doesn’t in a concrete manner.
Internal branding suddenly put together without much planning in the end hurts the company because the leadership, and employees are communicating inconsistencies. Inconsistent behavior and words spoken often leads to mistrust both internally and externally, thus in turn, causing confusion. Basically, one behavior ends up contradicting another behavior and so the team operates its daily operations in mistrust.
In the end, this hurts the company, it hurts the brand.
“Employee Belief Systems, not corporate mission statements, drive behavior.”
Examples of Business Core Values
Here are examples of business core values from some well-known brands:
“At Zappos, our 10 Core Values are more than just words. They’re a way of life.”
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
“We believe a company’s actual values are shown by whom they hire, reward or let go. Below are the specific behaviors and skills we care about most. If these values describe you, and the people you want to work with, you’re likely to thrive at Netflix.”
- You make wise decisions despite ambiguity
- You use data to inform your intuition and choices
- And more…
- You seek what is best for Netflix, not yourself or your team
- You are humble and open-minded about others’ great ideas
- And more…
- You make tough decisions without agonizing or long delay
- You take informed risks and are open to possible failure
- And more…
- You listen well and seek to understand before responding
- You are calm in stressful situations
- And more…
- You work well with people of different backgrounds, identities, values and cultures
- You are excited to help build diverse teams where everyone feels welcomed and respected
- And more…
- You exhibit and are known for candor and transparency
- You only say things about colleagues that you are willing to share with them
- You care deeply about Netflix‘s success
- You inspire others with your drive for excellence
- And more…
- You develop new ideas that prove impactful
- You look for every opportunity to reduce complexity and keep things simple
- And more…
- You learn rapidly and eagerly
- You seek alternate perspectives to improve your ideas
- And more…
“HubSpot culture is driven by a shared passion for our mission and metrics. It is a culture of amazing, growth-minded people whose values include using good judgment and solving for the customer. Employees who work at HubSpot have HEART: Humble, Empathetic, Adaptable, Remarkable, Transparent.”
- We solve for the customer
- We work to be remarkably transparent
- We favor autonomy & accountability
- We believe our best perk is amazing peers
- We lean towards long-term impact
“Ten things we know to be true”
- Focus on the user and all else will follow.
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
- Fast is better than slow.
- Democracy on the web works.
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
- You can make money without doing evil.
- There’s always more information out there.
- The need for information crosses all borders.
- You can be serious without a suit.
- Great just isn’t good enough.
- Act with integrity
- Always do what is right
- Behave in a transparent and authentic way
- Trust others and empower them to deliver
- Act as owners
- Continuously seek new growth opportunities as well as cost efficiencies
- Take calculated risks and stimulate others to do the same
- Do what is best for PepsiCo as a whole and not just for your own area
- Voice opinions fearlessly
- Create a safe space for different opinions
- Actively listen and be curious
- Respectfully challenge decisions when you disagree
- Be consumer-centric
- Consistently innovate to create more value for end-consumers
- Factor the end-consumer into every decision we make
- Use data & empathy to understand & anticipate the needs of our end-consumers
- Celebrate success
- Build a positive & collaborative work environment
- Create moments of fun
- Show appreciation for each other’s contributions, both big & small
- Raise the bar on diversity and talent
- Hire and promote only the best
- Build diverse teams and inclusive environments
- Recognize people based on performance and potential
- Focus and get things done fast
- Stay focused on what really matters and clarify what we won’t do
- Simplify the way we work, eliminate bureaucracy and remove obstacles
- Decide, commit, and execute fast
These examples showcase how different companies emphasize various aspects of their businesses and culture through their core values. Remember that business core values should be unique and authentic to the company, reflecting its identity, mission, and vision.
How You Can Create Business Core Values That Affect Your Culture And Bottom Line
Culture is like the fruit that is seen once the core values and company brand purpose are planted, rooted, and cultivated in the company. It displays the way the leaders and employees act even when no one is watching. When leaders and employees act in alignment with the business core values, it’s a reliable indicator of a good culture and a strong company brand.
“Cultivation = The process of embedding brand values throughout the organization.”
Bottom line, looking at the fruit will determine the health of the root.
Honoring core values is attainable when intent is at the forefront.
To make core values thrive internally and externally, they should include these two foundations
Creating core values that are unique to your brand –
This involves deep reflection about what your organization stands for, what it values most, and how it wants to operate in the world. Here are steps you can take:
- Understand Your Brand: Reflect on what makes your company unique. What does your company stand for? What’s your mission? What’s your vision for the future? Understanding these elements can help guide you in identifying your core values.
- Involve Your Team: Core values should be created collaboratively. They should not only be a reflection of the company’s identity but also resonate with the people who work there. Engage your team in the process through brainstorming sessions, surveys, or workshops to get their perspective.
- Identify What Matters Most: Reflect on the principles that are non-negotiable in your business operations. What behaviors and actions do you want to see from your team? What principles guide your interactions with customers, partners, and stakeholders?
- Look at Your Success Stories: Analyzing your company’s past successes can often highlight your underlying values. What common threads run through your most significant achievements?
- Define Your Values: Once you have a list of potential values, it’s time to refine them. Avoid generic or overused words. Instead, choose values that are specific and meaningful to your organization. They should be clear, actionable, and easy to understand.
- Align Your Organization: Your core values should be incorporated into every aspect of your business, from hiring and training to decision-making and customer service. They need to be more than just words on a wall—they should guide behavior at all levels of the organization.
- Communicate Your Values: Once you’ve defined your core values, it’s important to communicate them clearly and consistently to your team, customers, and other stakeholders. This can be done through your website, internal communications, marketing materials, and company-wide meetings.
- Live Your Values: Core values should be lived out daily. Leaders should model these values, and they should be embedded into performance metrics and recognition systems.
Create and cultivate by the leadership team –
Creating and cultivating core values as a leadership team involves a thoughtful and collaborative process. It’s about defining what truly matters to your organization and finding ways to integrate these values into every aspect of your business. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to put core values into practice:
- Collaborate: This process should involve all members of the leadership team. It’s important to have diverse input to ensure the values reflect the entire organization and not just the perspective of a single individual. You could also consider getting input from employees at various levels of the organization.
- Reflect: Start by reflecting on your organization’s mission, vision, and purpose. What does your company stand for? What is your unique value proposition? What are your highest priorities? These questions can help guide your discussion and align your team.
- Identify Key Principles: Identify the key principles that are essential to your organization. These might include aspects like customer satisfaction, innovation, integrity, teamwork, respect, or sustainability. Try to focus on principles that are truly integral to your organization and not just generic ideals.
- Define and Refine: Once you’ve identified these key principles, turn them into clear, actionable statements. Avoid buzzwords and jargon. The goal is to make your values easy to understand and implement.
- Align: Ensure your core values align with your business strategies and practices. They should guide your decisions and actions, from hiring and training to customer service and product development.
- Communicate: Clearly communicate your core values to all stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and investors. This could be through internal meetings, newsletters, your website, social media, or other communication channels.
- Live the Values: As leaders, you must lead by example and embody these values in your actions and decisions. Employees will follow the example set by their leaders.
- Integrate: Integrate your core values into all aspects of your business. This includes incorporating them into hiring practices, performance evaluations, and reward systems. Regularly revisit and reflect on these values to ensure they’re being upheld.
- Celebrate: Recognize and celebrate when employees embody your core values. This could be through employee recognition programs, shout-outs in team meetings, or other forms of acknowledgment.
- Revisit: Over time, your organization may grow and change, and it’s important to revisit your core values to ensure they still reflect your organization.
“Culture attracts high-caliber employees and leads to a 33% revenue increase.”
Company brands prosper when core values are unique to the brand, and created and cultivated from the leadership. Once formed with these two foundations and held as behavioral examples team-wide, your brand audience will engage with a higher level of transparency and authenticity.
If you don’t know your core values, or have trouble remembering them, then you might be losing money.
A set of core values that truly reflects your brand’s behavior can shape the reputation you want in the marketplace—and positively affect your bottom line. If you need help determining if it’s time for a refresh, or would like some guidance around developing a new set of core values, we’re here to help. Work with us to put your business on the path to success by developing a well-rounded strategy that takes into account how customers see and interact with your brand every day.
Nicole Andrew is a 20 year brand designer, Level-C certified brand strategist, educator, and co-owner of 28Lions, a branding & marketing consultancy agency.