According to Harvard Business Review, core values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions and serve as its cultural cornerstones. Their purpose is to describe the characteristics a business wants its employees to represent, and the goal is that the company as a whole will abide by these tenets in its service to its customers.
Although there are certain similar principles utilized by many businesses, corporate values should be specific to a company’s mission and goals, and not be too generic. As Curt Steinhorst explained in his Forbes article titled Rethinking the Value of Core Values, “a company’s core values should serve as a cultural adhesive wherever the goal is to engage the talents, interests and backgrounds of those in the organization for maximum productivity and for good.”
Approximately 90% of corporate values reference ethical behavior, 88% focus on commitment to customers and 76% incorporate teamwork and trust. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) lists common values as outcome, people, and team orientation; attention to detail; stability; innovation; and aggressiveness. Other oft-used values include honesty, diversity, accountability, ownership, leadership, and fun.
Bernard Banks is a retired United States Army brigadier general and clinical professor of management and associate dean for leadership development at the Kellogg School of Management. According to him there are four steps leaders should take to ensure a company puts its corporate values into practice:
- Articulate their organization’s values.
- Measure against those standards.
- Call out behavior in themselves in others.
- Invite outsiders to critique the company’s actions.
Companies leading by example
About 85% of S&P 500 companies have a section of their websites dedicated to corporate culture. Some of the most successful companies have established corporate values that represent their goals in a realistic and applicable way. We’ve highlighted some prominent examples of companies that didn’t simply use a bunch of business buzzwords that could apply to most any business.
- 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.
- Members first: Without our members, there’s no LinkedIn. Everything we do, we do for them.
- Relationships matter: We’re in the business of building relationships. This includes our workplace.
- Be open, honest, and constructive: We strive to communicate clearly and share helpful feedback.
- Inspire excellence: No challenge is too big. We keep learning, iterating, and improving.
- Take intelligent risks: One of the secrets to LinkedIn’s success. Not every risk works out – but some do.
- Act like an owner: We make every decision, big or small, with care.
- 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.
- Build the best product.
- Cause no unnecessary harm.
- Use business to protect nature.
- Not bound by convention.
Impact on employees
A list of corporate values might not seem to have a noticeable impact on employees, but research has proven otherwise. Creating a culture can help in growing the business and attracting talent. For example, one survey found that almost 60% of companies with clearly-defined core values experienced growth of more than 10%. That’s a sizable number considering only 30% of the U.S. workforce reports being actively involved, enthusiastic and committed to their work.
A study published in the Journal of Managerial Issues came to the conclusion that, “participants' workplace decisions do indeed become less ethical when corporate values adopt a very profit-oriented approach to reward and recognize employees compared to when corporate values reward integrity or when no corporate values are professed.”
Similarly, a Walden University doctoral study titled “The Impact of Organizational Culture on Corporate Performance” noted that, “the core corporate values strategy is essential to the success of the corporate group.” In the study, participants identified core corporate values as, “an important strategy to maintain the effective organizational culture and to improve performance in the corporate group.”
One more example: a study published in the Asian Academic Research Journal of Social Science & Humanities stated that, “an organization‘s clear and explicit set of principles and values, which the management devotes considerable time to communicate to employees and clients, and which values are shared widely across the organization have a great influence on the employees‘ work and how the public view the organization.”
AMR’s core values
We believe that every patient should receive quality healthcare. Our values focus on dedication, selflessness, and a can-do attitude. We strive to demonstrate a dedication to quality healthcare, put our colleagues’, clients’ and company’s needs above our own through selfless attitudes and acts, and respond to challenges by saying “yes” to reasonable requests and questions from clients and colleagues. Megan Kaufman, AMR’s General Manager, reminisces about the creation of AMR’s values: “Years ago when we developed our values and belief statement, we captured why we thought our best employees were the best – they shared a commitment to dedication, selflessness and can-do attitudes. Today, we look for these values in our hiring process, encourage decision-making based on these values, and reward employees who consistently exemplify our values in their daily work.”
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