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What are business values?

A business’ core values are the set of principles and beliefs that drive the business and dictate how it behaves. They can impact relationships within the business as well as relationships with customers and investors. 

These values should be practised and reflected in every level of operation within the business. They will determine how the public perceives your business and will help to differentiate your business from its competitors. 

Your business’ values could include promoting things like equality in the workplace, environmental sustainability, and fair trade.

Why are core values important?

Core values are important because they affect how the business impacts its employees and customers, and affects how they behave in relation to your business. 

Effects on your employees 

Having a clear set of values can help employees to make decisions that achieve your business’ mission. It provides them with guidance on appropriate courses of action.  

Values can also boost employee morale. Employees are usually more motivated to work for companies that share their values. 

They can also help attract the best talent for your business as they provide prospective employees with an idea of what it’s like to work in your business. A business’ core values affect its culture and work environment. Making these values clear at the recruitment stage can help you to hire the right people by attracting those that share the same values. This helps your hires to fit into your workplace culture, increasing their productivity and the likelihood that they’ll stay with your business for longer.

Your business’ public image

Through your business values, your potential customers and investors can gain a comprehensive understanding of what your business is about, its mission, and what it stands for. A strong set of business values makes your business more appealing to potential customers and investors that share the same beliefs. This, in turn, fosters brand loyalty.

How do I determine my business’ key values?

1. Consult your employees

Form a small team with other founders, executives (eg CEOs), and key employees to collectively identify traits that describe the business, or which you’d like the business to adopt. Make a list of all the suggestions.

2. Define your key core values by discussing them with your team

Continue discussions with your group to see which values resonate with them the most. Particular consideration should be given to qualities that have been raised more than once. 

In picking out which beliefs and principles to uphold, you should be mindful of: 

  • the relevance of the traits to your business and its mission - they should not be generic ideals

  • the costs associated with upholding these values - they should be upheld at all times, not only when it’s economical to do so

  • when actions must be taken to realise these values for them to be effective 

What happens after I have identified our core values?

After you’ve established your core values, you must share them with your employees and the public. 

When announcing these values to your employees, you should think about ways to market them. You can:

  • use acronyms to make the values more memorable

  • demonstrate how these values can be implemented practically in employees’ daily activities 

  • create posters to remind your employees of the values 

  • make merchandise with the values printed on it

  • introduce a reward system for employees who embody the values in their daily operation

To be effective, your core values must also be integrated into any employee-related processes such as recruitment, wellbeing and dismissal

Be sure to share your values with the public. This can be done by publishing them on your business’ website through a mission statement and by publicising them on social media.

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