How Companies Can Establish Core Values That Really Matter - Glassdoor for Employers

How Companies Can Establish Core Values That Really Matter

Company culture has fast become the most important facet for job seekers applying to work at organizations of any size. Employees and candidates alike expect leadership to shape culture mindfully and purposefully, balancing things like innovation, belonging and the bottom line.

Professors Charles A. O’Reilly and Jennifer A. Chatman define culture as “a set of norms and values that are widely shared and strongly held throughout the organization.” These values underscore the employees’ experience. If an employer values innovation, for example, you can feel that.

To bring clarity to what corporate culture entails and how to measure it, Glassdoor teamed up with MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR) to introduce the Culture 500, a groundbreaking and first-ever online interactive tool that scientifically ranks and compares the corporate cultures of more than 500 companies driving the U.S. economy.

The 9 Values That Matter Most to Job Seekers

Agility: Agile companies are nimble, flexible and quick to seize an opportunity. Internet and management consulting companies are leading industries when it comes to this value. Uber is a top-notch practitioner of this corporate value. 

Collaboration: When companies exercise this value, their employees are cohesive and productive, within their group and across teams. Fast food and retail apparel are some industries that have this down to a science; HP is a standout.  

Customer: The customers’ needs are central, for businesses that radiate this value. The company prides itself on listening to customers and creating value for them. Pharma & bio tech and Medical devices are leading industries, while Chick Fil A is a distinguished player. 

Diversity: Bring yourself, because there’s a place for everyone in these inclusive cultures. Diversified financial services and consumer goods are some top industries when it comes to cultivating diverse cultures, and TD Bank is a leader. 

Execution: Companies implement this value by fostering behaviors like taking personal accountability for results, delivering on commitments, prioritizing the activities that matter most, and adhering to process discipline. Toyota is a high performer when it comes to execution.

Innovation: Companies that value and fuel creativity and experimentation and are eager to implement new ideas exhibit this value. Communications equipment and enterprise software are lead industries when it comes to innovation, and SpaceX is a standout. 

Integrity: Staff members across the board, from entry-level professionals to company leaders, maintain a code of honesty and ethics that consistently inform their actions. Industrial conglomerates and electrical equipment companies are leading industries when it comes to integrity, and Charles Schwab is top-notch.  

Performance: The company recognizes performance and rewards results through compensation, recognition and promotion, and it handles underperforming employees tactfully and strategically. The insurance and semi-conductor industries stand out when it comes to performance, and Goldman Sachs is a leader. 

Respect: Employees, managers and leaders exercise consideration and courtesy for each other. They treat one another with dignity, and they take one another’s perspectives seriously. Consumer goods and enterprise software are high performers when it comes to this value and SAP is a standout. 

RELATED: The Glassdoor Culture Code: Inside Our Four Company Values

How to Think About Your Company's Core Values

Values are not and should not be the same for every company. They should be thoughtfully selected and reflect not only what is unique about your company but also should include the "north star" traits that you envision all employees upholding. Values have the ability to truly elevate and inspire a workforce, but if selected at random, the ill-fitting values can stir criticism and feelings of disingenuousness.

The process of developing your core values can be thought of in a few steps:

  1. Brainstorming: Rally leadership to brainstorm a list of values they feel are reflective of the company and the mission.
  2. Refine the list: Collaborate to fine-tune of values and whittle down the list to a manageable list. Some companies opt for 4 values while others have as many as 8. Hone in on a handful of values that feel authentic to your company.
  3. Employee Feedback: Once leadership has honed in on a short-list, consider holding focus groups with different members of the team to get feedback. Allow employees from across the company to weigh in on the short-list, give qualitative feedback and, in some cases, criticism. Remember to tap a diverse pool of employees from different offices, employment statuses, levels, etc.
  4. Report Back: Share the findings and feedback from the focus group to the leadership team. Get their feedback and buy-in.
  5. Adoption: Now that you have a set list of values, start developing a series of ways to embed these values in everyday culture. A few suggestions include posters in every office, including the values as a part of performance reviews, and host a company all-hands to announce them and include them in all subsequent all-hands.
  6. Ongoing Reinforcement: Core values are not a "one and done" project. They should permeate the entire company culture for real impact. When onboarding new employees, think about how you share these values. As the business or company changes, consider revising the values and use them along with your company's mission to drive deeper employee engagement

Company shareholders and CEOs have been at the forefront of decision-making, but their time is up. Employees are now the focus of the modern workplace, which means new values are taking the place of old paradigms – and company culture is becoming better as a result

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