How to Define Company Values

In a world characterized by rapid change, it is almost indispensable for organizations to define core values that serve as guidelines and reflect the identity and principles of a company both internally and externally. In this article, we will look at how to define such company values and what influence they can have on a company's success.


What are company values?

First, it is important to understand that corporate values are very individual. They are characteristics that a company considers valuable and on which it bases its actions. They are the foundation for every decision-making process in a company and guide the daily behavior of employees and managers. Corporate values are a common thread running through everyday business and provide a strategic direction. These values not only set the direction for action within the team, for example when it comes to introducing new strategies and choosing the “right” benefits, but also influence the behavior of employees towards customers and play a central role when hiring new employees.

How to define company values

You should define company values to generate a common unique set of principles your team identifies with and use to conduct your business. There is no one right way to define company values, but there are some rules to follow that will make this exercise easier. Since values are individual, it is first important to determine which characteristics employees and the leadership team ascribe to the company. In the end, everyone should identify with the values, so it is highly beneficial to give all employees the opportunity to participate in this process. However, depending on the number of employees, this may be handled differently in some cases, and perhaps only the leadership team and key employees, in a liaison role, will provide input.

Gathering input from individual employees can be done in a workshop (in the office, at a neutral location, on an outing) or with the help of digital collaborative tools. Ask your employees to think about the values they believe already identify the company, as well as the values they believe will make up the company in the future. If you are hosting a workshop, start a discussion with questions such as 

What is important to us?

What do you like about what we do at our company?

What makes us stand out as a company?

What are we most proud of?

In the early brainstorming process, it's okay to keep it simple and just jot down individual words. Depending on the setting this exercise is taking place, this collection process can take place in a few hours, in a day, or online over a longer period of time. After all employees have had a chance to write in their values, they can be clustered and shaped into topics by the Management and People team. In detail, the individual steps can look as follows:

  1. Collect everyone's input 
  2. Cluster repetitions and group them together
  3. Match similar topics into one group 
  4. Form into actual values by creating words and sentences
  5. Define and present your company's values to the team and make them accessible

There are different variants in terms of the number and wording of the values. They can consist of individual words, short catchwords or sentences. Keep in mind: The core values should be formulated in such a way that they fit the company. They should also be clear and understandable even for those not involved.

Defining values is only the first step

Once the values have been defined and publicly communicated within the company, the real work begins. Because the values should not demonstrate posters on the wall, but actually be lived in all areas of the company and in daily work: When hiring new employees, when working together as a team, when developing new products or when dealing with customers. Words must now be followed by deeds that emanate from the top level and become "day-to-day business". Managers, therefore, have an important role to play in anchoring the corporate values in the corporate culture. If the values are lived out internally and externally, this can lead to a strengthening of employee loyalty, because values provide orientation and thus security.


Company values are not static, but constantly evolve and grow with each person who joins the company. Therefore, it is not only about the initial definition of the values, but also about their regular reevaluation.

Nevertheless, the work that goes into defining corporate values pays off. If corporate values are carefully selected and, above all, actively lived, both individual employees and the entire company can benefit. They are also an advantage when looking for new employees: If you know which values are important to you, you can select candidates in the application process who really fit you and vice versa. 

In summary, corporate values have an impact on the success of a company: They improve the corporate culture, increase identification, provide stability and enhance your credibility - both internally and externally.

Oct 2022 - 3 min read

Katharina Höll

Katharina Höll

Senior Communications Manager

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