Well-defined company values are the secret ingredient to building great teams, fostering innovation, and delivering exceptional customer service. From employees to customers, everyone loves brands with strong company values. As Simon Sinek says, “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it!”
Times have changed and so have people’s values. Employees are selective and choose to work for a company only when they resonate with its values.
Thus, leaders and founders need to understand the importance of the company's core values, reassess them, and update them going forward.
Read on to understand how company values play a critical role in start-ups.
- Craft company values early on in Start-ups
- Communicating company values to employees
- Choosing the right values for your company
- Define the company’s core values early on
- Integrate your company values into the hiring practices
- Craft values that employees can relate too
- Thrive to become the best place to work
- Create a Mission Statement that speaks to employees and clients alike
Vision, Mission, and Values: The Pillars of a Start-up
Vision, mission and values are the essential components of flourishing company culture.
- The mission is an organisation's driving force and the reason for its existence.
- Vision represents its aspirations, i.e., where does the company see itself in the long-term.
- And company values are statements that define how and what the business does to carry out its mission.
Company core values play a significant role in determining how others perceive a company and how it responds to various circumstances and challenges. The company values can be a game-changer for a start-up as they are directly correlated to employee satisfaction, customer relationships, and company growth.
Post Covid-19, things have changed drastically. Priorities have changed for both the workforce and customers. There is a growing emphasis on work flexibility, diversity and inclusion, physical and mental health, and emotional well-being, to name a few.
For a start-up, well-thought company core values become crucial as they will hold the organisation together by aligning all business decisions to the same values.
1. Craft company values early on in Start-ups
Company core values are the building blocks for any business, even more so for a start-up. Core values support a company’s vision and shape its ethics, thereby motivating the team and glueing them together. Thus, to avoid your start-up getting into hot water in later stages, you must set the company values early on.
You need to build a company culture by understanding the needs of your teammates, what matters to them, what motivates them, and what enables them to function together effectively.
We at HackerTrail, too, live by our values. HackerTrail was born to empower tech professionals to find their ideal careers and help companies find the right fit. We are a team of tech enthusiasts who aim to create a trusted environment where ambitious techies land exciting job opportunities. We have defined five company core values:
- Individual-centric approach
- Create tangible value
- Collaborate meaningfully
- Communicate with transparency
- Challenging and evolving the status quo
However, crafting company core values alone isn’t enough. You need to know how to communicate it loud and clear. Below are some ways to share the same with your employees.
2. Communicating company values to employees
A robust business ethics framework will ensure that all employees hold similar values and work towards a common business goal. But a well-crafted ethics framework will make the difference only when you successfully communicate company values to employees.
One of Google’s core values is, “Focus on the user, and all else will follow”. When you use any Google product, you know how well they serve their customer, i.e., You in this case. Clearly, every employee at Google lives by this value.
To effectively communicate company values to employees, you must demonstrate them in everyday work interactions.
Some ways of communicating company values to employees are:
- Let your brand do the talking: Pay attention to your company branding. Your branding strategy should be such that it speaks the company's core values loud and clear.
- Communicate company values to employees in the early stages: If a business ethics framework is already in place, it is best to communicate values in the hiring or joining phase. However, if you have reassessed and rewritten your values, it is your job as a leader to convey to your teams your company’s essence, what you stand for and how you plan to serve your customers.
- Align employee engagement with core values: Embed your company values in your engagement strategy. Involve your employees in the value creation process, make them an integral part of your mission and cultivate a purpose among them.
- Show values in action: Actions speak louder than words. If you had a recent win due to company value, communicate the same to your employees or interview candidates. If the value system has been there for a long time, you can create a storyboard, a short video that shows your winning team in action.
That brings us to the question, how do you establish the right values for your company?
3. Choosing the right values for your company
It is crucial for you to choose the appropriate company values for your business and to abide by them. Below are five ways that an organisation can use to either build a business ethics framework from the ground up or reassess their existing values:
4. Define the company’s core values early on
Company values are the heart of your business. Setting them early is crucial for the life of your venture as they will lay the foundation for every business function in your organisation. To define your values, involve all the founders and executive teams. Besides providing inputs, they will also drive the adaption of the new value system. You may also consider bringing a consultant onboard who will guide you through the process in a democratic way.
5. Integrate your company values into the hiring practices
Every business decision you take needs to be aligned with your company's core values; the same holds for hiring. By integrating your business ethics framework into your hiring process, you can shortlist candidates with the right set of motivations and values. During the hiring interview, be ready with questions that will help you understand a candidate’s thought process, decision-making, moral compass, and professional goals and purpose. This approach will ensure the right fit.
6. Craft values that employees can relate too
While crafting your company values, you need to pay attention to the driving factors for the workforce today. As an organisation, particularly a start-up, you need a team that believes in your values and works toward the same mission. Your company's core values are the sure-shot way to attract talent because prospective employees are more willing to work for an employer with similar beliefs.
7. Thrive to become the best place to work
If you expect your team to be trustworthy and reliable, you need to provide a thriving and positive company culture. Employees should feel heard, encouraged and valued. Make it a goal to become one of the best places to work. One way is to survey your team occasionally to know what values they expect in a great workplace. Once you know what will make them happy working at your company, thrive towards creating that environment.
8. Create a Mission Statement that speaks to employees and clients alike
Create a clear, concise and authentic mission statement that conveys the values you live by. Your mission statement should be visible to your prospects, customers, and employees. It will be the soul of your business that glues the team together in good and bad times.
Nevertheless, today’s workforce is changing, and so are their values.
Values that matter to today’s workforce
Gen Z, born between 1995 to 2012, have begun entering the workforce. According to the Ministry of Manpower and the Singapore Department of Statistics, GenZ constituted 6% of the total Singaporean workforce in 2020. And this number continues to grow each year rapidly.
To keep their upcoming workforce motivated, companies need to align their values with GenZ’s belief system. They are very dissimilar to their predecessor and display some unique characteristics as below:
- They value their emotional well-being, mental health and growth over money
- They seek financial security and stability but will not compromise their values to do so
- They live and breathe technology and are the most tech-savvy generation
- They are highly competitive and are great individual contributors
- They are hard-working, innovative and prefer a well-balanced work and personal life
- GenZ happens to be the most socially aware generation and enjoys challenging the status quo
Based on the above traits of Generation Z, you might need to rethink your company values. For instance, they are more likely to work for an organisation that offers workplace flexibility, believes in diversity, and commits to a greater social cause such as climate change, hunger, poverty, etc.
Company values matter more than ever today as they lay the foundation for the company culture.
Start-ups can develop the company's core values by working together with their close-knit team. But as the company grows, it becomes even more important to reassess your company values.
You need to articulate them and create a business ethics framework that everyone across the organisation can follow. Companies need to draft values paying heed to the fact that a new generation, with a very different value set, has become a part of their workforce.
A thoughtful approach to building values will yield a positive company culture focusing on individual and business growth and well-being.