Skip links

The Difference Between Having Company Values & Applying Company Values

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This is a guest post by Jamie Nichol of CultureIQ.

Any company can email out their core values and post them on their website. That’s the easy part.

What is harder, less common, and far more important, is having values that actually mean something to people. This is what we call value alignment at CultureIQ, and we believe that this is a key ingredient to a successful culture and company.

The process of value alignment starts from the beginning.

For some companies, “the beginning” really is the infancy of the company. For example, before CultureIQ had even released our product to the world, we went on a company hike where we discussed and developed our values over a campfire. It was a special, and certainly unique, experience to source our values from each and every employee directly.

However, most companies already have their values, so value alignment starts with recruiting and hiring accordingly. Each candidate should be informed of your values during the recruiting process, so that you give them a chance to assess if they are on-board with the values and are willing to commit to them in their work.

The fun is just beginning once you hire people who agree with and believe in your company values.

Because every decision is an opportunity to apply your company values.

You’re probably balancing 10 different projects and making hundreds of decisions at work each day. And given the contents of your plate, you’re not crazy to feel overwhelmed from time to time, especially when other people depend on the outcome of your decisions. This is exactly where your company values come in handy. If you ground your decisions in the values, then you can feel confident committing to them and explaining them to any player in the company.

The great news is that values-based programming doesn’t just sound nice, it can actually be more effective. According to a recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management, values-based recognition programs had a more positive impact on employee engagement, employee happiness, and relationships when compared to non-values-based recognition programs.

You can apply values-based programming to anything—choosing benefits and perks, planning events, determining workplace policies, and even designing your office space. For example, if one of your values is “Flexibility,” employees should have the flexibility to use and alter their workspace to fit their needs. These seemingly “little things” can add up to shape how employees feel about the company’s commitment to its values, which sets an important precedent.

Because while it stems from leadership, it should be a shared process.

It’s important that new employees are taught the significance of the values during training, but this type of thinking can be emphasized on a regular basis. And have fun with it! Play a song that exemplifies a value before the start of an all-hands meeting, host workshops, or theme your events around the values.

At the end of the day, employees should understand what the company values mean in a practical sense, and how they can apply the values to their everyday work—customer interactions, colleague interactions, product decisions, etc.! This is the difference between having company values and applying your company values.


Jamie Nichol manages the marketing at CultureIQ, a culture management platform that helps companies measure, understand, and strengthen their culture. She spends her time exploring all things company culture and employee engagement, and loves learning about the secret sauce that makes companies tick.

Photo by kewl on Flickr.

Comments are closed.