Ultimate Software's Blog

Defining Your Company’s Core Values


How would you define your company culture? What are the elements, traits, and pillars that describe a typical day for your employees—whether they work at headquarters, a regional office, or from home, maybe thousands of miles away?

So often, when starting up or even as they grow, companies focus mainly on defining their missions: what they do, the products or services they provide, the industries they serve. That should definitely be a priority, as knowing your what is crucial to overall business success.

But it’s just as vital to know your why, your greater purpose. Why do talented, hard-working people want to join your company and carry out your mission every day? Why do organizations want to partner with you and use your products or services? There are likely many reasons why.

That’s culture. And that’s what can ultimately set you apart from all others.

From day one at Ultimate Software, we made it our mission to put people first—always. This founding principle shapes the workplace culture we’ve created, the HR technology we design, the comprehensive services we deliver to customers, and our personal focus on making a difference in our communities.

Over 29 years, we’ve grown from a four-person startup with a vision to a $1 billion company with more than 5,100 employees worldwide. As we’ve evolved, we’ve recognized the importance of distilling Ultimate’s core values and defining what really makes our company and culture unique. Throughout the course of a year, individuals from teams across Ultimate collaborated to identify six words that define us. Words that capture what we’re all about.

Together, we are S.T.R.O.N.G.—Selfless, Thinkers, Relentless, One, Nimble, and Genuine.

These core values have always been part of our company. They are personality traits that all of us—from our leadership team to our new hires to our tenured employees—strive to embody, every day. We believe these six core values describe the passion and commitment we all bring to work—no matter where we work, or the work we do within Ultimate. We’re all working together and focused on keeping us S.T.R.O.N.G.

So, how would you define your company culture? What intangible feelings are ever-present companywide? More importantly, why are you here, and why are people proud to be with you on this journey?

No matter which industry you serve, how many years you’ve been in business, or how big you’ve grown, I encourage you to take time and truly think about your company’s core values. Start by asking your employees what it means to work at your company, and how they feel at work each day. What words would your people use to define your culture? Then, ask your customers. How does it feel to interact with your people? How would they describe your company if it were a person? See whether the answers are consistent.

Culture may be a feeling from within your walls, but it’s certainly felt beyond the workplace.

By defining a set of core values for your company, you can help ensure everyone—from your employees to your customers (current and future) to your communities—knows who you are, what you’re about, and why you’re here.