10 Tangible Ways to Bring Workplace Core Values to Life

10 Tangible Ways to Bring Workplace Core Values to Life

More than half of employees are motivated by their company’s mission, and 64% attribute their company’s mission to the main reason they stay in their current jobs. Learn how to bring these to the forefront for your team.


Core values matter. Your workplace core values tell the world who you are, what you believe in, and who you aspire to be.

Your company core values are also a key part of attracting and retaining top talent. More than half of employees are motivated by their company’s mission, and 64% attribute their company’s mission to the main reason they stay in their current jobs.

But your core values only work if they're embraced and championed by your team members.

“Values are verbs, things we do.”Simon Sinek.

According to a recent report by Right Management and Globoforce’s Workforce Mood Tracker study:

  • Among a group of 91 possible factors, personal commitment to an employer’s core values is the top driver of employee engagement.
  • 54% of respondents who didn’t know their company’s core values reported being engaged while 88% of those that did know the core values reported engagement.
  • 65% of workers who could name their values say they had a strong grasp on company objectives versus only 23% of respondents who say they didn’t know any of their company values

So how can you revitalize your company’s core values initiatives and get your entire company to live them?

Here are our 10 tips to help create an exceptional employee experience that promotes your workplace core values.

1. Ask for feedback on your workplace core values

Many companies believe that core values are permanent and should never change. But the truth is that as your company grows and evolves, you may need to adjust your company core values. Otherwise, your core values could be at risk of becoming empty jargon that doesn't reflect your organizational culture.

In order to keep your core values aligned with your company’s mission and goals, it’s important to frequently reevaluate them. And the easiest way to do this is by asking your employees for feedback on how to define your core values.

After all, who should know your values better than your employees?

Sending frequent pulse surveys can give your team members a voice and find out whether employees are aligned with your core values. By reaching out to employees to ask for input, you’ll start to see patterns in how your employees are perceiving your workplace core values and identify what might need to be changed.

2. Keep your company values top of mind

Employees need to be frequently reminded of your values: what they are, what they mean, and how to demonstrate them. When individual and organization-wide values don't match up, your productivity will stall and growth will be more difficult to achieve.

Make sure to regularly remind employees of your core values and why they matter. Whenever possible, share specific examples of actions that team members have taken that demonstrated your values. You can do this by highlighting stories of team members demonstrating your core values, adding your core values to your communication (such as adding your core values to email signatures), or creating interactive campaigns focused on your core values.

With Cooleaf, you can create core value challenges to regularly encourage employee to reflect on core values and highlight core value examples.

Cooleaf core value challenge examples:

  • Recognize Our Values Challenge: Team members share a story of when they or someone else on their team demonstrated one of your values.
  • Video Storytelling Challenge: Team members record a video of themselves sharing what your core values mean to them. (These are great for sharing your organization's mission across social media.)
  • Giving Back Challenge: If your workplace core values include "compassion" or "integrity," you can put those words into action with a giving back challenge. Virtual giving challenges make it easy to connect distributed teams and reward team members for demonstrating those values.

Another good way to keep company core values top of mind is through open discussion and huddles.

Are you a manager or team leader that needs help starting discussions on core values? This huddle guide is for you.

Downloadable Huddle Guide

Download our Huddle Guide PDF by filling out the form below. You'll get a printable huddle guide resource to assist in discussions around the organization’s mission, vision, and values with your teams.

huddle guide

3. Recognize employees for living your workplace core values

Let's face it: everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated for their hard work. An employee recognition program is a powerful way to inspire team collaboration and highlight your workplace core values. It also gives your employees a clear, real-world example of your core values in action.

Make sure your recognition program enables employees to "recognize" other team members for demonstrating your values. It’s important to keep these recognitions publicly visible as well so team members can comment and interact with the story.

To make the recognition even more effective, include special prizes or incentives, such as reward points that can be redeemed for gift cards or company merchandise.

4. Enliven core values

There is no reason to choose values just because you need to set them. Empty value statements create cynical and dispirited employees, alienate customers, and undermine managerial credibility. In fact, 80% of the Fortune 100 tout their values publicly — values that too often stand for nothing but a desire to be familiar or politically correct. It must go beyond just a list of values that sits on the website.

Meaningful values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. But coming up with strong values and sticking to them—requires real guts.

Understanding the values contribute to the performance of the company. Companies, therefore, should establish some basic definitions to ensure that people know what they’re talking about and what they’re trying to accomplish. There are 4 categories of organizing values.

  • Core values – the ‘soul’ of the company or the main constant beliefs that an organization’s corporate culture is based on.
  • Aspirational values – values that are opposite to practiced values, these are values that a company wants to fulfill in the future to be successful.
  • Permission-to-play values – values of life (e.g. honesty, reliability, commitment) that need to be understandable to any employee.
  • Accidental values – values that splash out spontaneously in the working process when a company generates new ideas, start a new strategy, etc.

5. Implement a real-time peer-to-peer recognition system

Values-based rewards should be a key component of your core values. This empowers employees to translate your cultural values into behaviors through real-time peer recognition. Knowing you're doing a great job is one thing, hearing others say it out loud adds a different meaning.

By offering the opportunity for employees to associate cultural values with the “cheers” they send, you're emphasizing organizational values by recognizing behaviors that align with them. This way, your employees understand what each value entails.

6. Have your company values go visual

Company “culture decks” are buzzing through the human resources world right now. They are a visual representation of your values — the things your company holds as most important.

Your culture deck should be a breeze to read and understand, and be written in a conversational language with examples, but also quite shareable. This will put your organizational values front and center as representative of your company as a whole, unshakably intertwined.

Company values are well and good. But they are absolutely moot unless your employees understand and live them. Ensure that communicating these values daily is a strong part of your employee engagement strategy.

7. Use values as a tool for handling interpersonal conflict.

One of the great things about a set of values is that they help employees arrive at a consensus on how to treat one another. If there’s a dispute between employees, you can always point them back to the core value instead of putting yourself in the undesirable position of being a judge or mediator.

For example, let’s say two of your employees both feel as though they’ve been treated unfairly by the other. Communication has broken down and trust is at an all-time low, but both want to be heard. Simply point them back to your corporate values and have them explain to their colleague what it would be like if those values were put into action in their interactions with each other.

You can ask each of them:

  • How would they like to be treated?
  • What does teamwork look like to them?
  • How would they like to be communicated with?

This helps to create a more positive environment, re-build trust, and give employees a plan of action to which you can hold them accountable.

8. Lean on your values during challenges.

The real test for your company values happens when things aren’t going well. Do you stick to your core company values even when you’re not getting the results you want? Even when external pressures may weigh you down?

Or do you fall prey to this type of thinking: “This is what we have to do to get ahead. I don’t care how you do it – I want to see results.”

Prioritizing results (the ends) over values (the means) sends a clear message to employees that values don’t matter as long as you’re getting the results you want. If your employees and key stakeholders aren’t clear about what you value, and if you prize results over the manner in which people achieve those results, that’s when you have compromised the foundation you have built.

As Zig Ziglar once said, “If anything goes, eventually everything is gone.”

9. Coach using the values.

Provide all feedback – positive and negative – in the language of your values. This is especially crucial for new hires during the onboarding process. If you’re meeting with a member of your team about their performance, use the opportunity to highlight how they’re exhibiting behavior—whether it’s values-consistent or not.

10. Use your values to make hiring decisions.

The best way to do this is to create a set of questions based around your core values and rate candidates based on their answers. For example, if one of your core values is “Life-long Learning”, then stakeholders should ask candidates about their biggest mistake. You should want to hear them demonstrate the recovery and learning that came from it.

How Cooleaf's employee experience platform keeps core values front and center

At Cooleaf, we create a recognition and engagement strategy focused on your workplace core values. By listening to your employees, living your core values through your actions, and highlighting positive examples, you can drive a team culture that aligns with your company's mission and purpose.

If you’d like to learn more about how our employee experience platform can help promote your company values, watch the video below.

Interested in learning more about how to bring company core values to life? Cooleaf can help — let's chat!


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