Putting your company values to work

06 May 2020

The COVID-19 crisis is causing many people to evaluate our personal values as a way to provide stability during a time of uncertainty. It’s no different for businesses. Crises often expose the stress fractures in an organisation and those without strong core values will suffer. But rather than being a threat, a crisis can be an opportunity for an organisation to emerge stronger.

The definition of company values is:  The core principles, ethics and behaviours a company and its employees will agree to abide by at all times.

Here are five ways to make sure your company values are working as hard as possible during difficult times.

Test your values

Look for evidence of your values at work in your organisation and consider whether they just window-dressing. Now is the time to examine the weak points and put plans in place to mitigate. Some examples include: 

  • Integrity – This is the value most valued by FTSE 100 companies. How are you making it your own?
  • Innovation – How has innovation been important in connecting your people, beyond using Zoom?
  • Safety – How have you put the safety and wellbeing of your people first?
  • Transparency – How transparent have you really been about the impact of COVID-19 on your organisation?
  • Teamwork – Are people working better or worse as teams? What issues have been exposed?

Reset and restate

Reframing your values in the context of the current crisis is a good next step. Clearly define what your values are and what they aren’t. Then simply articulate the supporting behaviours for each of them.

For example, where you have always prided yourselves on ‘Trust’, now is the time to really show it by allowing your employees to manage their own working pattern to remain productive and well.

‘Teamwork’ isn’t about everyone doing everything together all the time and isn’t practical when many are working from home. But it could mean setting priorities and checking on each others’ wellbeing at the start of each day.

Your senior leadership should be the first to talk about why and how values are important in a time of crisis.

Focus on one or two values that are the most relevant and don’t try and shoehorn any in that don’t fit the current situation. Keep the references light and keep the conversation going by referring to the values regularly.

Look to your people

Your people and are the best place to see your values at work. So ask yourselves, Who is already successfully living them? Who do others look to as a role models? This shows the values are owned by people rather than being driven from the top down.

Imagine who you would you send to Mars as an ambassador of your values.

Nominating a values champion to keep the topic live within the team. One of our clients’ values is #AlwaysReady and they have identified #AlwaysReady Wellbeing Champions throughout the company.

Show and tell

Your narrative and key messages should frequently reference your values, without being forced. Communication of your values is key and employees want to get it via a mix of digital channels – email or newsletter (48%) posts on the company website (33%) and phone/video conferences (2%).

But, remember, actions speak louder than words. Encourage team members to share stories of where they have seen particular values in action. Reward and recognise these efforts. A values moment, nominated team member or story at the beginning or end of calls works well.

Refresh if you need to

If you don’t have strong values, don’t scramble to create new ones because midway through a crisis is not the right time. Don’t look at this as a chance to promote weak values. Take the opportunity to ask yourselves if your values are right. Evaluate how leaders and managers have been role-modelling them to motivate and unite staff. If your company values don’t stand up in a time of crisis, they never will.

If you have tested your company values and found them wanting, it may be time for a refresh.

106 Communications is an award-winning communications consultancy on a mission to making work better. We create communications to engage and inspire through our three expert-led practises in Internal Communications, Change Communications and Branding & Marketing. Find out more about how we can help: contact

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