Core Values: Why are They Important?

Your Core Values explain what’s really important to your company. That's why every business decision should be made in accordance with these values! An organization without Core Values is like a ship without a rudder. It’s impossible to build a successful business, set business goals, and hold teammates accountable if you haven't defined and clearly communicated your Core Values to your employees.

Your company Core Values are the foundation of your culture and become a critical pillar in your overall business strategy. They help define your purpose and create a common sense of commitment to your organization. Core Values are the glue that holds your company together. They build internal and external trust and they form the basis of your unique value proposition.

So it should not surprise anyone that a company’s Core Values are a crucial factor in attracting, recruiting, and retaining talented employees. Consider these statistics relative to company Core Values and culture:

  • Nearly half of job seekers rated company culture as very important when selecting a company they would want to work for.
  • Almost 60% of workers said they would stay at a lower-paying job if it meant they could work for a great boss.
  • And 9 out of 10 employees believe a positive company culture is the key to a successful business.

We all know that cultural fit is an important characteristic for new hires. But how do you know if that individual you are about to bring into your organization shares the same values as your company unless you and the rest of your business have a clear understanding and an unwavering commitment to your Core Values?

How Do You Define Your Core Values?

Your Core Values drive employee experience as well as the experience you create for your customers, suppliers, partners, and stakeholders. Perhaps most importantly, your Core Values must be true to your organization, and your organization must be true to your Core Values. Defining Core Values that are not true to how your company operates or aspires to operate is assured of failure. People will see right through weak, bogus, unclear, or unrealistic Core Values, and that will erode the sense of trust that is critical for all successful businesses.

Your Core Values Are the Lifeblood of Your Business!

A company’s Core Values reflect what every person in the organization believes and stands for. These values create a sense of shared responsibility and accountability. Every important work decision should align with at least one of your Core Values.

In the early days of Virginia Business System’s history, we didn’t have written company values. At that time we didn’t understand the importance or the purpose of having written Core Values. In fact, we thought they were something big companies had so they could create a positive image of themselves in the marketplace. We didn’t think that writing down our Core Values was worth the effort.

What we didn’t understand was that we actually did have Core Values, we just hadn’t written them down, discussed them, or communicated them to anyone. The Core Values came about after we had worked and spent time together and recognized the ideas and beliefs that we had in common with one another, and the way our thought processes came together when we had important decisions to make. Perhaps one of the most practical benefits of having Core Values was being able to make individual and independent decisions that would align with each other’s decisions even when we were not in contact with one another.

How Your Core Values Drive Business Success

1. They help your clients and your market understand what your company believes in.

In business, it is extremely important to make sure that your clients and prospects understand what your Core Values are. Eventually, your Core Values will become inseparable from your brand. In fact, your Core Values are a competitive differentiator, and they attract like-minded organizations to your business.

2. They help you acquire clients who are like-minded.

Much like your current customers, potential new clients also care about your company Core Values. When a prospect discovers that you both have common Core Values, you could have a much better chance of winning their business than another company that doesn’t share the same values! For example, if one of your Core Values is “being committed”, you will probably attract new customers who appreciate commitment from their vendors. That is a good reason to understand the business values that your leads and prospects have.

3. Core Values help your employees make the right decisions.

Your Core Values help your employees understand what your company stands for. Clearly communicating your Core Values to your employees means they are more likely to make sound decisions that are aligned with the company's vision and goals. Well-defined Core Values provide solid moral direction which helps to guide employees in difficult situations. In an unstable world of rapid technological, environmental, and societal changes, a strong set of Core Values is a much-needed North Star that helps employees navigate challenging terrain.

4. They improve internal communication.

When employers don't have strong Core Values, their communications with their employees can become inconsistent and unclear. This often leads to confusion and employee dissatisfaction. With clearly defined and executed Core Values, you can significantly improve internal communications within your organization, and help your employees internalize those values.

5. Core Values have a positive impact on employee motivation and engagement.

When your employee communication process is built around your Core Values, it helps boost employee motivation and engagement. When you explain your Core Values to your employees and the reasons why you stand behind those values, they will have a better understanding of the organizational objectives and will work harder to achieve them. Engaged employees have a clear picture of their personal goals as well as the company's goals. They will have a much better opportunity to achieve what they set out to do.

6. They help you attract and retain the best employees.

Company values are extremely important when it comes to attracting and retaining talented employees. Most jobseekers do hours of research before applying for a job. They study company websites, discussion forums, social media, and any other information they can find about the companies they want to work for. They pay particular attention to company review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Google. Job seekers invest time and effort in researching a potential employer because choosing the wrong company can be a huge waste of time, money, effort, and personal capital. Likewise, a bad hire can cost an employer tens of thousands of dollars in onboarding investment, not to mention the cost of disruption that results from employee turnover. Promoting your Core Values to job seekers reduces the likelihood and cost of poor hiring decisions.

7. They make your marketing team’s job easier.

Clear and compelling marketing messages require a deep understanding of your company Core Values. In order to achieve credibility in your industry and your marketplace, your internal and external communications need to be consistent. Organizations that haven't set clear Core Values usually struggle with their marketing and communication strategies. Marketing teams that understand what the company stands for are much more successful in acquiring leads that successfully convert to net new business and revenue growth.

How We Determined Our Core Values at VBS

When we first set out to define our company Core Values, we didn’t really know where to start. We knew that there were some general guiding principles that we used to direct our decision-making and how we dealt with our customers and each other. But narrowing it down to five succinct Core Values was a challenge. Like many other successful, fast-growing companies, we were so fixated on acquiring customers and getting the work done that we hadn’t given our Core Values much thought.

Defining your Core Values is never easy because you have to take all your positive company attributes and behaviors and distill them down to the “vital few” that will reflect your company belief system and culture from that point forward.

After much deliberation and discussion, we decided on these five Core Values:

• We are Committed
• We are Respectful
• We are Passionate
• We are Client-Focused
• We Do the Right Thing

While these Core Values may seem like straightforward, common sense goals, they must be communicated, accepted, and internalized by every team member before they can have any tangible benefit.

Reflecting on Our Core Values

The past year has been a real test of our company and our Core Values. The market, our community, and even our employees were anxious and questioning the strength and resiliency of our Core Values and whether we would have the fortitude and determination to stand behind our Core Values.

It turns out that our Core Values were there for us when we had a difficult decision to make, or when our direction during a particularly trying time wasn’t clear. We were able to apply our Core Values to the situation, and in almost every instance, our Core Values provided clarity and pointed the way.

We are grateful that we took the time and effort to identify, define, communicate, and internalize our company Core Values. If you have been thinking about your own company Core Values, or if you have questions about our Core Values, please contact us for more information.

July 26th 2021