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Debra Corey


Chief Pay it Forward Officer, Speaker, Author and Consultant

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Six ways companies are living their values in response to the coronavirus


Values are a critical business tool, guiding employees in the direction required to help themselves and the company succeed. But what happens to values during challenging times? Do we (a) Toss them aside and focus on the problems at hand or (b) Make them even more a part of how we run our business and how we treat our people.

If you answered ‘b’ then you’d be right, for if there ever was a time when we needed values to guide and motivate us, it’s now. Put another way by the fabulous Brené Brown in her ‘Unlocking Us’ podcast, “It feels less weird when I’m in my values.” 

To give you some ideas for how to better live your company values during the current crisis, below are six wonderful examples from companies that are putting their values first in how they’re taking care of and connecting with their people in these challenging times. 


At CSpace, a US customer agency, they’re using their values to “help our people pivot rapidly to come up with new solutions to support our clients digitally,” says Phil Burgess, Chief People and Operations Officer. The same is happening to support their people, doubling down on values such as ‘show the love’ by being more intentional about it at times like this. 

Examples are nudging reporting managers to check in on video with their direct reports, prompting them to see if there’s someone they should thank for their efforts this week, and opening up social channels, which are accessible to everyone in the company to provide more help and guidance. “We’re encouraging people to post when they have time to offer, or need help – whether it’s because they’re trying to work from home and look after kids, or because they’re up against it on a client deadline,” says Burgess.

Guideware Software 

Guideware Software, a software publisher, is a business that is truly led by their values. They’ve recently launched a new global benefit programme that supports their employees and the local community during these challenging times. Leaning into their value of ‘collegiality’, which talks about ‘valuing each others’ wellbeing over the crisis-of-the moment’, each employee can expense 50% of two family meals a week as long as they order food from a local restaurant and have it delivered to their house.

“The goal here is to help support one part of our local communities, which have been hit very hard by all of us suddenly being prevented from going out to eat. It seemed like the logical thing to do.” says Ian Creamer, Head of People – EMEA & Asia Pacific.

Reward Gateway

At Reward Gateway, an employee engagement technology company, they’ve woven their values into how they’ve transitioned their global team to working from home. An example is playtime, which happens every single day to make sure that employees have time to talk, share, laugh and connect on a very human level.

This aligns with their value of ‘be human’, which is about connecting on a deeply human level, and building resilient, balanced, long term relationships. Here’s the agenda that leverages a variety of technologies and appeals to their global workforce:

  • Monday – Games by Trebor via Google Hangouts 

  • Tuesday – Live Video Cookery Class 

  • Wednesday – Quiz Master Session powered by Slido

  • Thursday – Desert Island Discs hosted by their HR Director, Rob Hicks

  • Friday – Wellbeing Session with Live Yoga Class via video

“You don’t need to find any new budget to do any of these things, you just need to deliver it on the day as you promise. Our team loves it and with our HRD taking part it sends a positive message to our people saying it’s okay to play” says Catrin Lewis, Global Head of Engagement & Internal Communications.  


Experian, a multinational consumer credit reporting company, has and is planning on rolling out special programmes that align to their values. One example aligns with their value ‘collaborate to win’, and involves daily and weekly calls which are happening across teams to discuss any current challenges, check in with how people are doing and feeding back on progress.

Another example aligns with ‘value each other’, and involves the implementation of a virtual wellbeing programme that covers topics such as isolation and self-distancing, working families, and personal wellbeing to help their entire workforce.


Starred, a technology company based in Amsterdam, has put in place a programme that aligns with their value ‘work smarter’. They’ve sent every employee a jump rope (or springtouw as it’s said in Dutch) with the following note from their Founder & CEO Lars van Wieren:

Dear team,

We face challenging and uncertain times. Both from a personal and professional perspective. In only one week’s time, all the liberties we’ve experienced our whole life are gone. I wanted to let you know I’m super proud of how all of us are coping with this situation and are making the best of it. It shows how strong our culture is.

Today also marks the first day of spring. Therefore you will find a ‘springtouw’ in this package. On Monday we will host the first ‘Jump Rope Hangout’ 🙂 Hope to see you there! Stay fit, stay safe and keep rocking. Thank you so much!


Walmart, a multinational retail company, has values which include being ‘fair’ and ‘courageous’, something which comes across loud and clear in the people plans they’ve recently announced. One example is a special cash bonus of $300 for full-time and $150 for part-time hourly associates that will add up to more than $365 million.

Another example is the acceleration of their next scheduled quarterly bonus for store, club and supply chain associates to a month earlier, putting cash in the hands of their employees sooner in these challenging times.

I hope these examples have inspired you as much as they have me, and that they illustrate the power of your values – in good times and in bad!

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Debra Corey

Chief Pay it Forward Officer, Speaker, Author and Consultant

Read more from Debra Corey
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