What does it mean to have “company values”… and how do you live them?

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Company values have really come to the fore of late. Why? Well, increasing bodies of research have identified that buying from and working for businesses that care about something other than profit is extremely important to millennials. This generation currently accounts for around half of the total working population, so companies are doing everything they can to dance to the beat of their drum.

What are Company Values?

Company values are the guiding principles, beliefs and ideals that drive your business. They guide everything from internal affairs to a business’s relationship with its customers. Once set, your company values must stand firm and manifest in every aspect of your business and every decision you make. Having clear company values in place helps to ensure that your employees are working towards the same goals and shows your customers what they can expect from their interactions with you.

The Challenge of Living Your Values

Christian Duncan is the co-founder and CEO of Dropless, the mobile waterless car wash startup that is shaking up the car wash industry. Christian explained how the company is living its values of digitisation, transparency, environmental awareness and the fair treatment of workers.

“All of our operations run through our app, from the booking and payment to the scheduling and tracking. That digitisation means that all of our processes are fully transparent to our customers and staff.

“As a waterless car wash service, we also use eco-friendly nano solutions that save up to 150 litres of water compared to a standard car wash. That eliminates harmful wastewater runoff, while the mobile e-vehicles we use to travel to every customer allow us to reduce carbon emissions.

“Then there’s our commitment to the fair treatment of workers. We are serious about reducing the stigma associated with the mistreatment of workers in the car wash industry. That’s why we provide extensive training and have implemented safety regulations and fair pay initiatives for our workers.”

How Do You Define the Core Values of Your Own Company?

Company values can differ tremendously from one business to another. If we take the example of Eversheds, one of the biggest law firms in the world, its values are to be client-centred, straightforward and to embrace a culture of continuous improvement.

When it comes to defining the core values of a company, there are a number of approaches you can take. Typically, the process will start with a brainstorming session, which will involve employees who understand and embody the business. The CEO, founder and other company officers will often lead this process, but to make sure the company values are relevant to everyone, key ground-level employees should be involved, too.

Questions that can help a business determine its company values include:

  • What’s important to us?
  • What’s important to our customers?
  • What parts of the company are we most proud of?
  • What do we aspire to?
  • Where do we see the business in five or ten years?
  • What qualities do we value in our employees?
  • How will our values give us a competitive advantage over the competition?

Once you are happy with your company values, they can be communicated to your employees and your customers through everything from your mission statement to your company website and your marketing materials. However, very importantly, your core values must not just exist on paper - they should be present in everything you do.

Company Values are Under the Microscope

One impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is that company values are being scrutinised like never before. During times of uncertainty and anxiety, customers and employees can really see whether a business is committed to its company values or whether they’re just part of a polished marketing plan that’s discarded at the first sign of trouble. That’s why it’s now more important than ever to create company values that embody every aspect of your business and that you can truly live.