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3 examples of values that inspire strong company culture

Company values are shared beliefs about what’s most important, and in our experience, a critical component of your company’s culture. While your mission statement tells employees what your business wants to accomplish, values show them how you plan to get there. 

Good values are unique, memorable, and actionable. From major changes in strategy to everyday communication style, you and your team should use values to guide better business decisions.  Glassdoor CEO, Christian Sutherland-Wong, said in a post about their cultural values, “Glassdoor’s success is defined by the decisions we make, both big and small.” 

Without clearly defined, memorable, inspiring values, you risk employees taking costly shortcuts to meet company goals—harming a lot more than your hiring plans. If your company has recently gone remote due to shelter-in-place orders, strong values can also help guide your internal messaging when there’s a real need for guidance and consistency.

Here are three examples of company values from employers with great company cultures:

1. Pinterest puts its customers first

Pinterest’s main goal is to “bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love.” Their users, called Pinners, use the visual search engine to collect ideas and inspiration for their passions. You probably know at least three people who planned their wedding, decorated their dorm room, or picked up a crafting hobby using a Pinterest board.

Pinterest's company culture values the customer

Their first value, “Put Pinners First,” acts as a guidepost along each employee’s journey, to always think about their work in terms of what’s best for the people that use their platform. If you don’t have a company value focused on your customers, employees might not feel strongly connected or accountable to them. What makes this value actionable are the questions included in the description. Before starting a project, employees know what crucial prompts their work should align to like “What problem is this solving? Is it significant? Are we making Pinners lives better?” 

“Put Pinners First” is an example of a customer-focused value from a company with the success to back it up. Glassdoor and MIT found that a customer-focused value is one of the nine most frequently listed values in a company’s official statements that have the biggest impact on results. With over 300 million people a month using Pinterest to discover new ways to be creative, the team is doing something right. 

Try: Continue socializing a customer-centric value beyond the words on a wall by organizing a customer panel. Hearing both positive and constructive feedback, direct from their customers, will inspire employees to advocate for customers in their work. Plus, customers will feel heard and appreciate the chance to give input into your business.

2. Snagajob sees the power of simplicity 

Snagajob is a tech company based in Virginia. When they merged with People Matter, they needed a new set of values to include both sides of the business. Together, the teams match workers with shifts and employers with workers. Their goal is to put people in “the right-fit jobs so they can maximize their potential and lead more fulfilling lives.” 

Snagajob's company culture values simplicity

First, Snagajob’s values are concise and simple. With only four values, the company’s cultural expectations are easy for employees to remember and act on them. Limiting your values also helps differentiate them from each other. If your company values are numerous or blend together, it sends a conflicting message to employees around prioritization. 

Second, these four core values are each defined by one word, which is less complex than several value phrases. Each one-word value is defined further by three bullet-point style behaviors. Together this information demonstrates how employees should act and bring this value to life in their everyday work. 

An effective way to keep your values top of mind for employees is to incorporate them into other elements of the organization’s identity and culture. This shows employees and potential candidates that the company is invested in its culture. On their website, Snagajob calls itself “the champion for hourly workers and the ally to employers,” which you can see was inspired by their company value, “Solidarity.”

Try: Come up with an acronym for your values. It’s an easy way to help employees commit them to memory quickly. Snagajob created a values mascot, called S.C.U.F. McGruff. It’s an adorable dog that recognizes the employees when their work aligns with all four values.

3. PagerDuty creates a culture of ownership 

PagerDuty is a digital operations management company. They help keep businesses up and running 24/7 with alerts that signal teams when a site is down. A large part of PagerDuty’s business strategy is around building a lasting company. Leading up to a time of hyper-growth, PagerDuty launched new values to align with their long-term vision and define the company culture that would help them achieve it. 

PagerDuty's company culture is anchored in their company values

This new set of values communicated on how employees should act and work together in order to build an enduring company. The value that stands out here is “Ack & Own,” because it’s meaningful to both their end-users and their company’s history. PagerDuty started as an incident response service, signaling to IT teams when something on their company’s network goes down. An alert displays on their phone with the button to acknowledge—or ‘Ack’—the alert and learn more.

A great company value takes unique characteristics of the organization’s history and weaves them into the business’s cultural fabric. The value of ‘Ack & Own,’ reminds employees of the ‘always on’ nature of their end-users’ job—and it’s something only PagerDuty can own. 

Try: Activate your values by giving people a list of behaviors so they know what actions they can take to live each value. Use role-playing to train employees on behaviors that align with your company’s values. Tailor the behaviors to each role so individual contributors, people managers, and senior leaders know how they’re each responsible for the company culture.

Company culture is more than words on a wall 

Unmanaged company culture and poor decision-making are amplified in moments of change. Without clear expectations on how to work together (and how not to) a failure to cultivate behaviors before scaling up can cripple your business.

It’s one thing to have company values displayed in the break room, printed on swag, or added to new-hire guides. But, to truly bring your company’s cultural values to life, you need to infuse them into every touchpoint in the employee experience—including your workplace

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