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Almost everyone has walked into the company break room and seen the company mission statement posted on the employee board. Maybe the company values are hanging in the conference room, too. But do they mean anything to the employees? Do employees understand them? Because if they don’t, there could be some problems.

What are company values and mission statements?

Both are similar in that they are focussed on the big picture – they separate where they define the rulebook for leaders and employees to use on the job.

Company values are words or actions that employees should follow to drive a business mission and purpose forward, largely considering its core beliefs, driving principles and philosophies.

values to guide employeesSome phrases companies may use would include ‘recognise hard work,’ ‘promote innovation’ and ‘ask for feedback.’ Sometimes, values are just one word rather than phrases, so, for example, ‘innovate’ to mean that employees should be continually searching for new ideas to better their business, or ‘listen,’ meaning that employees should listen first, speak later. Clear values have a phrase or word associated with them, and then a description of what that behaviour/action means in an employee’s day-to-day actions. 

The company mission statement is best described by SHRM as a concise explanation of the organisation’s reason for doing business, describing the purpose of the business and who the company serves.

There are leading companies that develop strong company mission statements like Tesla, which writes: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. These are lofty statements that guide the ‘why’ of business – for example, the Reward Gateway mission, ‘Let’s Make the World a Better Place to Work,’ is linked to how our HR technology further connects employers to employees through our unified hub. 

The benefits of a clearly defined mission statement and company values

Imagine constructing your own desk. It came with a manual and all the pieces, but how clear are the instructions? Are there illustrations and text? Is the text in your language?

happy employeesA clear mission statement and company values are much the same. When there are no clear instructions for staff and leaders, there is a sense of confusion and uncertainty and the message is not used. Employees may not know how best to handle customer complaints. Managers may not be aware of the need for transparency.

Clear company instructions, derived from purposeful company values:

  • Influence productivity – because everyone knows what is expected of them and how they should approach their role.
  • Attract and retain talent – because it builds company culture and branding, helping the business stand out as an employer of choice.
  • Give responsibility – because it makes people accountable for their actions.
  • Improve customer service – because employees know how to approach their job.
  • Differentiate company – because it raises the business to a higher standard.

With a well-defined and actionable set of values and mission statement, the company can come together as a team, focus on the customer and make smart business decisions that all contribute to increased profits that grow the organisation.

4 steps to define company values and your mission

Understanding the impact that clear company values provide employees is one thing, but creating them is quite another. Normally, business owners and senior leaders will come together to draft the company values and mission statement. For situations where revisions are on deck, encourage leadership to communicate with their employees about what is and isn’t working to provide them a voice in the growth and development of the company. 89% of employees surveyed said that feeling listened to by leadership is important to their wellbeing at work, and the development of your organisation’s mission and values is a prime collaboration target. 

Homeserve, a home energy and repair services company, uses eCards to reinforce its company values by recognising and rewarding key behaviours in employees.

“Everyone knows what our values are – they live and breathe them because they believe in them. The recognition is there to reinforce those behaviours, and the eCards are linked to them. It’s also helped us stand out as a top employer as we enhance our Employee Value Proposition.” –Head of Engagement and Talent Development at HomeServe

When defining company values and the mission statement, follow this simple checklist:

  1. Address company commitment to everyone including customers, employees, shareholders, and the community.
  2. Identify the desired company culture in the sense that it will be family-oriented, data-driven, or innovative.
  3. Instate realistic, achievable goals.
  4. Think about how to achieve those goals, what success will look like and how it will be measured.

How to be sure employees understand the company values and mission statement 

Once the mission statement and company values are created, you should work for buy-in. You want to know employees understand, agree, and are willing to act accordingly to what was put in place.

Embed this message in their day-to-day and communicate it clearly. Posting it on the bulletin board and in the onboarding packet is a good start, but it can also be set up with the technology employees use every day.

keeping employees connectedCompany platforms are a great way to share values and mission statements, especially if staff work remotely or if the company is going through a lot of organisational change.

Once the message is out, it should be continually reinforced. Create opportunities for employees to practice the values you put in place. One such way would be to give employees a means of expressing appreciation to other employees, like eCards when recognition is a top priority at the workplace.

Also, top management should never forget their responsibility to demonstrate the desired behaviours. During monthly or weekly meetings, they should remind people of the company values and mission statement and show recognition when they see someone following the values, such as speaking up when the company is promoting more employee inclusion. 

At the end of the day, employees at all levels are responsible for living out company values. But when values aren’t clearly defined or linked up to a mission statement, the company can (and will!) suffer from a lack of direction and accountability. Ask yourself, do your employees understand what’s needed of them? If not, it might be time for another look at how your define and showcase your values, mission and purpose.

Nebel Crowhurst

Nebel Crowhurst is the Chief People Officer at Reward Gateway, delivering a People Strategy that supports overall success and helps RGers thrive. She also maintains a blog called Dream Big : Believe Bigger and loves to read in her spare time.

Chief People Officer

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