If you ask colleagues at Bright Horizons, as I did this morning, many people will say ‘heart’. It’s not just a well-timed coincidence to coincide with Valentine’s Day. Heart actually comes up a lot at Bright Horizons: it’s our motto or more specifically, our values statement. Bright Horizons HEART Principles is our written company values statement, created to define our culture as we grew from a few people to tens of thousands around the world. It stands for Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Respect and Teamwork.
Values statements are growing in popularity and it’s clear to see why: 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.
Values statements describe what organisations believe in and help people understand how to behave. They’re a guide to support one another to reflect the spirit of the company and set the stage for how people treat other people. This is invaluable. How we treat each other is the foundation of our workplace culture, which is the foundation of the quality and services we offer, which impacts the number of customers and clients we have, and the success of our business, and the number of great, talented people we attract…!
Although flashy perks get attention initially (people always enjoy food!), a cupcake only gets you so far. Unhappy people plus a free cupcake only equals unhappy people with a free cupcake. The real objective is to understand ‘what kind of company do you want to be?’ and your company values will help you define that.
At Bright Horizons we are equal parts HEART and hard work, and I might also add lots of fun! too (although HEARTF doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!). We take our values statement very seriously and we know so many other organisations do. As motivational speakers and coaches remind us – if we write it down we can make things happen.
This fits perfectly with the Dream Company study completed last year by Horizons Workforce Consulting which highlights that where people work matters far more than what they do. And the characteristics of a Dream Company – one which supports the whole person and creates positive cultures – are translated through a strong values statement.
So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, to help people fall in love with your company – say it with a values statement.