Sew Core Values into the Fabric of Your Company

In the second piece of our guest Core Values series, Kathryn O'Day, COO at Rigor, shares more about how Rigorians fully embrace their Core Values in the day-to-day.

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Have you recently defined your Core Values and want to authentically incorporate them into your culture? Or maybe you have great Core Values but are having trouble making them sticky and top-of-mind with your team?

As we all know in the startup world, ideas are everywhere. It’s execution that separates ideas from long-lasting businesses. The same is true of Core Values. They are just an idea until you intentionally build them into the fabric of your company.

When Rigor announced our revamped, employee-generated Core Values in 2015, we knew that we needed to “take them to market” asap. Because the team was so involved in the process, we saw great, organic traction right away.

One employee drew “posters” of our Core Values on white boards around the office!

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Rigorians started using them as hashtags when we give shout outs in our team Slack Channel:

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Our designer made a graphic for each value which we turned into posters and later pillows, Slack emojis, and specific Slack channels:

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We started a peer-to-peer Culture Award to recognize Rigorans embodying the Core Values. The winner of the previous month determines who wins for the next month. They present our “Astronaut” to the new winner at our Monthly All-Hands and explain how they have embodied Rigor Core Values. The only rule is that it must be given to someone in a different department.

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Here are some other ways we’ve intentionally incorporated our Core Values into our day-to-day business operations:

  • Our Core Values are included and discussed in every Weekly Update (email), Monthly All Hands (presentation), and Quarterly Retreat (offsite).

  • Each department has a section for Culture shout outs in the Weekly Update.

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  • We added questions about Core Values to our quarterly performance reviews including a performance rating question: How well is this employee embodying Rigor’s Core Values? It is weighted the same as the other two performance questions.
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  • We ask specific questions in interviews to understand if a candidate embodies Rigor Core Values. This portion of the interview is done by someone outside of the candidate’s immediate functional area.
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  • We include Core Values to explain the “why” in company policies or how-tos:
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  • We ask for employee feedback through the Employee Idea Exchange. Rigorians nominate ideas and vote on them. The most popular quarterly idea is implemented.

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  • Each department has a “Fun Money” budget of $75/employee/quarter to spend on events, team swag, or other culture ideas. Rigor also offers a $2500 professional development stipend to enable folks to #ImproveEveryDay and #OwnYourWork. If your Core Values matter, make sure you are putting your money where your mouth is by providing resources for them.

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Other ideas for incorporating your Core Values into the fabric of your company:

  • Postcards for career fair swag, in-office notes, or sending to remote employees

  • T-shirts

  • Pint glasses - one for each value; collect them all!

  • Welcome Packet for new hires specifically about Core Values

  • Core Value Blogs by employees - pick a value, explain what it means to you with examples of its impact on your work and career

  • Stickers or decals

  • Culture Award wall with winner photos and why they won

  • Company competition with one event or category for each Core Value (could be 1 day or long term, e.g. #DoTheRightThing = # of community service hours as a team)


These are a small sampling of many great options, and of course it varies by company. What has worked for your company? What other cool and effective ideas have you heard? Please share them below!