Your company’s defined core values are just words. What you need is a culture that lives those words.

Many of today’s companies place a big emphasis on their core values. They come up with a few words or phrases that sound positive and aspirational – integrity, growth, collaboration, innovation, quality, service, etc. Then they post them on a website or hang them up on the wall and expect everybody to take them to heart.

To truly call yourself a “values-driven” business, you must do more than just talk about your values. You need to lead by example and create a culture where every team member is inspired to live those values day-to-day.

What does it look like to have your employees – or co-workers, as we call them at Fantastapack – be fully engaged in promoting the company’s culture and values in their everyday work? For us, it’s about having a shared purpose. It’s about asking the question, “Why do we get up every morning and come to work?” and having everyone feel connected to the answer. In a values-driven business, everyone wants to feel good about who they work for and why they’re here at your company.

Going Beyond the Words

Your company’s defined core values are just words. What you’re really trying to get across to your entire organization is culture – a culture that lives those words.

In marketing, there’s an adage called the Rule of Seven, which says you have to tell people something seven times before they actually “hear” it. That’s why we keep repeating and reinforcing our culture to our co-workers in everything we do. We speak about our values repeatedly, through different methods, and really try to integrate them into a lot of activities so they’re not just a sign on the wall or something we talk about once a year.

One of the things we drive home with our co-workers is that our values can’t live and die in a manual. We have to live it every day. We speak to them directly about it and why it matters, and then we task them with it: “It’s up to you to bring these values to life.”

To that end, we try and weave those values into different things we do, like our “Co-worker Caught Doing Right” award. A team member is nominated for this award by exemplifying one of the company core values. We print out a story relating to how they exemplify that value and post it throughout all of our locations. By the end of the year we’ve got 12 stories about co-workers demonstrating our values in different ways, which truly shows how they’re living the culture.

Connecting Your Culture to a Cause

Once you have a solid, values-based internal culture, you should share that with your community and the world at large. The best way to do this is to choose a cause that authentically connects and resonates with the culture you’ve built – in other words, find the right way to give back in a meaningful way for your business.

For example, we recently launched a partnership with a nonprofit called One Tree Planted where a portion of every Fantastapack order funds the planting of one tree. When I was looking into what Fantastapack could do to be more conscious of the market ecosystem we’re involved in, I immediately thought of trees and reforestation because our product, custom corrugated cardboard boxes, ultimately comes from trees. I realized that this was the most impactful partnership that we could form to participate in reforestation because it aligns perfectly with our commitment to using sustainable materials in our products.

Identifying and supporting a cause that matches your company’s values is just one of many different ways to live out your culture. The most important thing is to keep talking about it with your team members. If it just lives on a sign in your reception area, that’s not good enough. You have to find multiple channels to reach them. But as long as you’re being authentic, living your values and creating buy-in among your team, weaving those values into all of your business activities will become second nature.

Ultimately, companies are comprised of human beings, and human beings have a higher purpose. They want to intrinsically feel a connection, both to each other and to a cause greater than themselves. When your business and its culture are driven by shared core values, you’re helping your team find that higher purpose in their lives.