How to Win Employees' Hearts

company values

It's Valentine's Day. So the obvious question for employers is, what makes people fall in love...with a company? 

If you ask around here (and I did), many people will say, "heart."

This isn't a random answer calculated to coincide with February 14th. Heart actually comes up a lot at our company - it's kind of our motto, or more specifically, our values statement. Our HEART Principles (quite fitting for Valentine's Day) is the written company values platform that was put to paper a while ago to define our culture as it grew from a few people around a kitchen table to tens of thousands of people around the world: Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Respect, Teamwork.

Putting a Bow on Company Values

Values statements are showing up a lot in today's companies. And here's the thing... they work. "They create the perfect-world script for how you want your people to interact in and out of the company," says our Chief Culture Officer Dan Henry. "It's not a perfect world. But you'd be surprised how you can create change by giving people explicit guidelines about expectations."

Dan says defining your company values - one of his 6 steps for building a great business culture - sets the stage for how people treat other people, and not just employees and customers, but employees and other employees. And that's pretty important. Because how employees treat each other is the foundation for the kind of workplace you have, which is the foundation for the quality of products and services you offer, which impacts the number of clients you'll have...and the kind of profits you'll make...and the number of great employees you'll attract...and so the kind of workplace you'll have...you get the idea.

What Employees Want for Valentine's Day

Splashy perks seems to get all the attention (and for the record, people do like food... mentioned often after "HEART"). But free cupcakes, says Dan, will only get you so far. Unhappy people plus free cupcakes equals unhappy people eating free cupcakes. The real thing you need to figure out is, "What kind of company do you want to be?" Specific company values help you do that.

We at Bright Horizons are equal parts HEART and hard work (side note: I might also add "fun" since Bright Horizons employees do enjoy their work... but HEARTF doesn't have the same ring to it). The truth is, we take our values statement very seriously - we know lots of other employers do, too. We even know of at least one other company that believes in heart (though they spell it out a little differently).

If you think it's a little hokey... remember, coaches and motivational speakers have been telling us for years that the way to make things happen is to write it down.

And by the way, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that this all fits perfectly with the very scientific Dream Company study done by our consultants that says for strategic goals like retention and productivity, where people work matters more than what they do. And things like HEART and values communicate the top three elements of a Dream Company - that the company cares about the employee's well-being, work/life balance, and career.

So if you're looking for that perfect way this Valentine's Day to woo those potential prospects and tell employees you care, better than chocolate... 

Say it with a values statement.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.