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Lyssa test – Culture Amp writer

Lyssa Test

Writer, Culture Amp

Our personal values inform how we think, feel, and act. They direct our behaviors and guide us to a success we can be proud of. The same can be said of businesses’ core values.

Core company values are the guiding principles or underlying rules that shape how organizations do business, make decisions, determine priorities, and work together. Strong values can improve internal alignment and keep your employees focused on what matters most to your company.

In this article, we explore what company core values are, why they’re important, and how to establish your own. Plus, we share core values examples from top brands to inspire your own core value creation process.

What are company values?

Company values are the principles that define how your company does business. They are often authentic aspects of your underlying culture, silently shaping how your company makes decisions, hires applicants, and even celebrates success. For example, if your workforce upholds ethics in every interaction, integrity may make sense as one of your company core values.

Oftentimes, company values celebrate the aspects of your company that make it a unique place to work. Every organization is different, so choose values that are genuine and true to the nature of your business and employees.

Here are a few examples of common company values:

  • Community
  • Critical thinking
  • Giving back
  • Honesty
  • Inclusion
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Open communication
  • Professionalism
  • Sustainability
  • Teamwork
  • Transparency

While these values are all straightforward, don’t be afraid to create company values with more flair. In a later section, we’ll share examples of creative company values from leading brands to help you identify the values that characterize your company.

Why are company values important?

Company values are a tangible representation of what makes your company unique. They also:

  • Shape company culture. Company values establish a strong base from which your company can grow.
  • Guide hiring decisions. Strong, authentic values can attract like-minded individuals who are passionate about your brand, their job, and their work. When an employee’s personal values align with those of the business, they’re likely to experience higher job satisfaction, improved teamwork, and enhanced communication effectiveness.
  • Direct better decision-making. Your values set the foundation for the decision-making that will help your business scale and succeed in the future. For example, if your business considers integrity one of its core values, your employees may be less likely to use fraudulent business practices to get ahead.
  • Drive employee alignment. When your employees know what you’re trying to achieve (your mission) and how (your values), they see how their work supports your journey, which may motivate them to stick around and help.

Core values examples from top companies

Next, let’s examine some core values examples from leading brands. We’ve highlighted some companies with simple and straightforward values, as well as some with more custom, unique values. Here are a few examples of core values in the workplace:

Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball, often referred to as MLB, is the premier professional baseball organization spanning the United States and Canada. Committed to delivering engaging and socially responsible athletic entertainment, MLB is guided by a set of core values that help steer its mission. These values are:

  • Excellence: To consistently deliver the highest quality of work while producing the highest quality athletic entertainment product.
  • Accountability & Integrity: Toward each other and the public; holding all who are involved with MLB – players, coaches, ownership, employees – to the highest standards of professionalism, responsibility and conduct.
  • Inclusiveness: Building a vibrant community that encourages, offers and respects a broad range of ideas and perspectives where everyone is welcome on and off the field.
  • Teamwork: Developing solutions by building strong relationships and working together to fulfill our shared mission and vision.

Learn about MLB's culture-first approach to performance.


E-commerce company Etsy is a global marketplace where talented creators sell their handcrafted and vintage wares. To help connect employees to their mission and enable their business to have a greater impact, Etsy uses what it calls its “guiding principles.”

Here’s what those guiding principles are:

  • ​​​​We co​​​​​​​mmit to our craft: Our work has the power to change lives. That's why we strive to learn continuously and excel at what we do.
  • ​​​​We minimize waste: Time, resources, and energy are precious, so we focus only on what will have the greatest impact.
  • ​​​​We embrace differences: Diverse teams are stronger, and inclusive cultures are more resilient. When we seek out different perspectives, we make better decisions and build better products.
  • ​​​​We dig deeper: The best solutions to meaningful challenges are rarely easy or obvious. We stay curious, balance our intuition with insights, and decide with confidence.
  • ​​​​We lead with optimism: We believe in our mission, and we believe in each other. We see the world as it is, set ambitious goals, and inspire one another with generosity of spirit. Together, we reimagine what is possible.

Learn about how Etsy improved employee engagement while putting culture-first

Culture Amp

Culture Amp is a human resources software company offering an employee experience platform for all people and culture needs. As Didier Elzinga, our Founder and CEO, puts it, “Values are not created. They’re uncovered.” Here are the core values that embody the spirit of Culture Amp:

  1. Have the courage to be vulnerable: Having the courage to be vulnerable at work is about being willing to step outside of your comfort zone, express your ideas, reach higher, and be open to both the disappointment and growth that comes with failing. Helping others build the courage to be vulnerable means creating a safe place, valuing our differences, and most of all, helping others stay motivated when faced with a challenge.
  2. Learn faster through feedback: Growth and learning through feedback requires a commitment to vulnerability and the humility to seek out feedback and apply it. Feedback can come in many forms, from different sources, and utilizing these feedback loops can help build empathy, resilience, and ongoing development. When we let go of perfectionism, there is more space for iteration and improvement.
  3. Trust people to own decisions: If we’re going to learn faster through feedback, then we need to trust people to make decisions, own them, learn from them, and share the outcomes. This keeps our teams moving faster than if we attempt to always reach a group consensus.
  4. Amplify others: Amplifying others is about empathy, connectedness, and recognition. It's about supporting others and knowing others are here to support you. It's about looking for opportunities where you can apply your unique set of skills to lift others up and help them succeed. And part of amplifying others is recognizing those who've helped you achieve your success.

Interested in learning how we chose our company values? Check out our blog post, How we discovered our company values at Culture Amp, for an inside look into the process.


Staying true to the spirit of its business model, global fast food chain McDonalds’ values are simple, straightforward, and effective. In order to serve its community convenient and delicious food, the company stands by these core values:

  1. Serve: We put our customers and people first.
  2. Inclusion: We open our doors to everyone.
  3. Integrity: We do the right thing.
  4. Community: We are good neighbors.
  5. Family: We get better together.


Group fitness studio SoulCycle is known not only for making its riders sweat and smile, but also for bringing like-minded people together. SoulCycle infuses the importance of health and wellness into its core values:

  1. We’re a community: We’re passionate participants and leaders within our communities. We work together to create a sanctuary where all are celebrated. We are here to bring Soul to the people.
  2. We embrace change: We adapt, enhance, and evolve as we grow. We welcome feedback, and approach every challenge with an open mind and heart.
  3. We care: We take care of each other and our surroundings. Every ride and every rider matters. We take time to ask questions, set intentions, and commit to do it right.
  4. We show gratitude: We give thanks to each other and our riders. We are humble and remember it takes a village.
  5. We recharge: We make sure to take care of ourselves and ask for what we need. We take time to rest, stay inspired, and recharge.
  6. We move fast and are on it: We work with a sense of urgency. We hold ourselves and others accountable.
  7. We have fun: We have a positive can-do attitude. We lift each other up. We love what we do.

Learn how Soulcycle drives engagement and retention through employee feedback

How to choose your own company values

Ready to start crafting your own company values? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you define the guiding principles that influence how your company achieves its goals.

1. Assemble a team

First, assemble the team that will help you establish your goals. There are a few ways to go about doing this. You can use a:

  • Top-down approach, where founders and senior leaders set your core values.
  • Bottom-up approach to give employees a say in defining your company values.
  • Mix of both: Can’t decide? Combine these approaches to give everyone in your organization a voice.

Depending on which strategy you choose, schedule a meeting with all your participants. If you decide to use the bottom-up approach, be sure to include employees from different departments, levels of seniority, tenure, and demographics. This will give you a diverse set of perspectives and help you hear from all areas of your business.

Should you decide to use the top-down approach, we recommend running your final leadership-approved values by a group of employees to ensure they resonate with your broader workforce and feel genuine to your company.

2. Brainstorm values

Once you’ve built a team to establish your core values, it’s time to brainstorm. Kick off the discussion by highlighting your company’s existing culture and identifying what matters most to your employees. Consider how your teams talk and act, how you approach learning and growth, and what criteria you use to define success and failure internally.

You can also use prompts to kick off your employees’ brainstorming, like:

  • As a group, what is important to us?
  • What brings us together?
  • What are we proud of?
  • What do you admire about other organizations or leaders? Why?
  • Do we value X over Y?

These questions can help your team compile a list of potential values that align with the underlying principles of your organization. For more inspiration, you can learn about how Culture Amp came up with our list of values.

2. Narrow down your list

In your preliminary brainstorm, you might notice a few terms or sentiments popping up again and again. These commonalities are an indication that you’re on the right track. At this stage, guide the discussion to a preliminary vote. To narrow the list, ask leaders or employees to express support for the values they feel most represent your company. Once you have a more manageable list, you can move on to the next step.

3. Flesh out your values

Now that you have your core values short list, it’s time to flesh out these ideas. In order for employees to embody your values, they have to be able to understand exactly what they mean. Think about how you will bring them to life across the organization – for example, how will you infuse them into your people practices? That makes this step crucial in the adoption and success of your values.

Like in the examples we shared earlier, add a few sentences or phrases that provide more detail on each value. For example, while “Embrace innovation” might seem like a straightforward value, you can add additional context like, “Encouraging creativity, embracing change, and fostering a culture of forward-thinking,” to help employees understand exactly how they can embody this value.

4. Test them with focus groups

Again, your values will only serve you if your employees understand and embrace them. Once you finalize your list of core values, host a few focus groups to gauge employee reactions and collect feedback. Depending on what they say, you might need to make a few tweaks before rolling them out to the entire organization.

5. Debut your new values to the whole company

Once your list is final and you have employee buy-in, it’s time to officially launch your new core company values. To help employees learn about your values, you can:

  • Announce them in all-hands, departmental meetings, and company communications
  • Hang posters displaying company values around the office
  • Include them in performance reviews and employee recognition programs
  • Add them to the company intranet
  • Offer internal training sessions to share ways employees can center the values in their work
  • Encourage senior leaders to lead by example and embody company values every day

You can incorporate all or some of these ideas into your ongoing strategy. That way, employees will be able to keep the company values top of mind continually, not just in the weeks post-launch.

6. Revisit your core values as needed

In more tenured organizations, company mission and values will need to adapt over time. The organizational values you had when you were a team of 10 may no longer be appropriate when you have 2,000 employees. As your company evolves, you’ll want to update your values to reflect the company’s changing goals and priorities.

Periodically, you may have to take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this what [Company Name] stands for today?” If you’re unsure or if you feel certain values are missing, it may be time to return to step one and kick off the ideation process once more.

How to get employees to adopt company values

It’s not enough to add your company values to your careers page. Values are only impactful if your business and employees live and breathe them. But getting this internal buy-in takes effort.

To improve employee adoption, follow these best practices:

  1. Communicate your values during employee onboarding
    Indoctrinate your newest hires with the company values on day one. Introducing your company mission and values during your new hire onboarding program ensures that employees are familiar with your core values from their first day of employment.
  2. Add them to your company intranet
    Adding your core values to the company intranet makes it easy for employees to find and reference your values whenever they need.
  3. Recognize employees who embody your values every day
    Company values are worth celebrating, so why not incorporate them into your employee recognition processes? You can even add them to an employee recognition tool like Shoutouts, so your employees can tie their praise to a specific company value when they highlight a peer’s great work. If you don’t have such a tool, consider asking employees to nominate colleagues who embody the company values. Highlight these individuals and their contributions in an all-hands or team meeting.
  4. Include values in performance reviews
    You can also build your company values into performance reviews. Adding a question like “How does this individual embody our core values?” to self, peer, and manager reviews can give your employees the opportunity to tie their contributions back to your values and mission.
  5. Incorporate values into your hiring decisions
    Some companies, like Amazon, leverage “bar raiser” interviews in which an applicant is evaluated on their culture-add, rather than their technical abilities and past experience. By asking questions that relate to your values, you can evaluate the candidate’s approach to problem-solving, decision-making, collaboration, and more. This can help you determine if they’ll be a good addition to your company.

Bring your core values to life with Culture Amp

Company values are the guiding force behind an organization's culture, shaping its identity and actions. But merely identifying these values and putting them on an office poster isn't enough. A people experience platform like Culture Amp can help transform that list of words into lived experiences within your organization.

Our platform empowers businesses to reinforce their values at every level while simultaneously measuring, maintaining, and nurturing their culture. With Culture Amp, your company can create a workplace where your core values aren't just ideals but the guiding principles that drive behaviors, decisions, and success.

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