A strong set of company values isn’t just a nice-to-have anymore – it’s essential to help shape how clients view your business, ensure that all your employees are on board with your mission, and help you pick the best people.
In 2013, we had just four values at Reward Gateway. They weren’t bad values – everyone liked them – but we felt that they had served their purpose. They were:
Be Bold, Work Smart, InnovateandDeliver.
But here’s what happened: the business was growing quickly, and we wanted to protect our culture and make sure it stayed with us on this journey.
To make sure we were on the right path, we needed a fresh set of ideals and principles. I’m going to share how we implemented these new values, why they’re so important, and how your company can do the same.
How can we create core values?
The first step is often the trickiest.
The most important piece of advice that I can give is to make sure your employees are involved in the process.
At Reward Gateway, our values were created by the Culture Club (now known as the Culture Team), a group of Reward Gateway employees – myself included – who volunteered to come together for two weeks in the summer of 2013 to review our existing values and come up with new ones.
When we first started brainstorming, it felt like every colleague in the Culture Club was focusing on their own teams’ desires, needs and wants. While not surprising, this wasn’t the best way to get at the heart of what we were trying to achieve across the business. We also had a big diversity of opinions, some who thought our existing values were perfect, and others who wanted to start over.
To help us think past, well, ourselves, we looked at how other businesses put their values at the heart of everything. In particular, we look at the Netflix Culture Deck and from there created our own slidedeck on what we wanted the culture at RG to be.
We held workshops with various sections of the business to gather as much employee input as possible, but I still felt we were missing something. That’s when I spoke with Matthew O’Meara, who was a part of our finance team at the time. He’d been with the business for a while, through Season 1 (our first time selling the business) and talked openly with me about why he was excited to be at RG, and why he felt our values weren’t connecting with current colleagues.
The takeaway I got from his was:
The values we had related to us when we were a start-up, but we’d outgrown our values. We needed something new to drive the right kind of behaviors and outputs that would help us reach our goals.
He helped us think through our new set of values (which hasn’t changed in five years), and attached the behaviors that underpin them — we call it the “RG Way.” By speaking about our values the same way across the business, we can further embed them into our everyday work in fun and engaging ways. And so our values became:
I’ll leave you with one last tip on the creation, and that’s that no idea is a bad idea. Every discussion and conversation you have can lead you in a better direction, so take the time to listen to everyone’s input and don’t be dismissive or laugh at someone’s suggestion. Remember, your employees are the ones who need to live out your values in the first place.
How can we communicate our values?
Once you’ve created your values, it’s essential to have a plan in place for how you’re going to make sure that all your colleagues know about them. The Culture Team used a number of different methods:
Our Culture Book contains information about our values and shows different initiatives that we've run to really demonstrate what makes us special, from our global business update to our employee share benefit that we have in place.
We encourage our employees to recognize each other against our values with our e-Card system, a peer-to-peer recognition tool.
Our Value of the Month initiative has proven really effective. For example, in February, to tie in with the theme of love, we celebrated the Love Your Job value. We asked employees to share with us why they love their roles at Reward Gateway, and we were able to get some fantastic stories and share them through our internal channels.
We openly share a video created by our Founder that explains our values in a visual way, using a rocketship! Find out more at rg.co/rocketship.
We have culture and values at the heart of everything that we're doing internally, and this has had a lasting impact on staff morale. We created our new employee reward and recognition program based on our values, and our values help drive our recruitment process, too. If you visit Reward Gateway’s careers page, you’ll see our values straight away – we want to make sure that any potential employee that joins us on our journey understands our values, our behaviors and our culture.
So, the question is: does your company value its values enough?
And if not, where do you start? How can you implement new core values, or change your existing ones to move with your growing business?
Put simply, it’s all about figuring out:
What core values best reflect your company’s mission
How you’re going to communicate your values
The impact you want them to have
Remember that your HR department doesn’t have to do this alone – getting employees from across the business involved not only makes it easier for you, but also ensures that your values reflect a diverse group of people.
The most important thing is to make sure that your set of values is something that all your employees and potential employees can get on board with. So, get your colleagues together, get creative and have some fun.