There’s no denying that a company is way more than just its products and services. It’s about the beliefs, values, and principles that underpin every decision taken by the organisation. These foundational beliefs? They’re core values, and they play a huge role in shaping a company’s culture and its relationship with stakeholders.

So, let’s look into the significance of core values, their importance to businesses, and the positive impact they can have on a company’s success.

What Are Core Values?

Core values are the fundamental beliefs and guiding principles of an organisation. Think about them like a compass for how a business operates and interacts with the world. They’re not just buzzwords or marketing slogans; instead, it’s the very personality of a company.

For instance, let’s take a look at Netflix’s core values – the powerhouse of the streaming industry.

Their core values are “Judgement,” “Communication,” “Courage,” and “Passion”. These aren’t just words; they shape the way Netflix hires, makes business decisions, and interacts with its customers and stakeholders. At every level of business and customer interaction, these core values will shine through, no matter whether you’re a customer assistant or the CEO of Netflix.

Why Are Core Values Important?

So, what’s the big deal? Core values may initially seem like something a bit intangible and pointless. But actually, they can help businesses in a manner of beneficial ways:

Guidance in Decision-making: When faced with a challenging decision, core values can serve as a point of guidance, for instance, if one of your values is transparency, your company might prioritise open communication even if a particular piece of news, or an update regarding your business, isn’t favourable.

Establishing Company Culture: Airbnb, a renowned name in the hospitality sector, values “Belonging.” This single value shapes their entire user experience and customer interaction, emphasising the idea that people can ‘belong anywhere’ when using Airbnb.

Attracting Like-minded Talent: Employees are more likely to feel motivated and committed when they resonate with the company’s core values. It’s a two-way street – businesses get engaged employees, and employees get a workplace where they feel genuinely accepted.

Building Trust with Stakeholders: Customers and partners trust companies that stand by their values, even when it might not be the most profitable action to take in the short term. Core values, therefore, aid customer retention and target audience loyalty.

Corporate Core Values vs. Aspirational Core Values

There are different types of core values out there, so let’s lay the definitions out clearly.

Corporate core values are the values that an organisation already possesses and practices. They are intrinsic to the company’s culture and can be shown through its daily operations.

Aspirational core values, on the other hand, represent the values an organisation aspires to embody in the future. This means their aspired core values aren’t apparent within the company yet, but are deemed essential for future growth. For example, if a company feels it needs to be more innovative to remain top of its niche, but currently isn’t, “Innovation” might be an aspirational value that they adopt.

How to Start Implementing Core Values

1. Lead by Example
Leadership teams and senior members of staff should always embody their company’s core values in their actions and decisions. This then sets the tone for the rest of the organisation.

2. Conduct Regular Training
Regular training sessions ensure that employees are well aware of your company’s values and how to utilise them in day-to-day responsibilities.

3. Provide Recognition and Reward Accordingly
Recognising and rewarding employees who showcase the company’s core values encourages others to do the same. An incentive is always appreciated, right?

4. Be Honest and Transparent
Encourage feedback and that all employees have open discussions about the company’s values. This keeps them alive and relevant, and means you can act upon any feedback given.

Examples of Real-Life Organisational Core Values
Beyond Netflix and Airbnb, several other reputable companies are defined by their strong core values. Let’s take a look at a few of the biggest brands right now…

Google: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Amazon: “Customer Obsession.”

Starbucks: “Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.”

Ask yourself – what would your core value tagline be for your business, or the business you’re currently part in?

Core Values Aren’t Just For Show

Core values are not just decorative words on a company’s reception wall or website. They’re not there to just ‘make a good impression. Your core values should be the heartbeat of your company, driving its vision, strategy, and actions. For companies looking to carve their own niche in today’s fast-evolving business landscape, understanding, defining, and living by your core values can truly make all the difference.