What Is Company Culture?

By Sky Ariella
Nov. 24, 2022
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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Every company has a unique atmosphere that’s generated from a combination of its core values, long-term vision, practices, and overall work environment. This ingrained distinctiveness is the organization’s company culture.

A business’ company culture is felt by everyone who works with them and greatly impacts their ability to attract top applicants when hiring. Evaluating and managing a corporation’s culture helps secure talented candidates and maintain employee engagement on the job.

Key Takeaways:

  • Company culture is the set of values, expectations, and norms of an organization.

  • A company with a healthy culture is more productive and stable in the long run.

  • The relationship between employees and management is an important component to company culture.

  • Accountability is key to a healthy company culture.

What Is Company Culture?

What Is Company Culture?

Company culture is the general ethos of an organization, the set of values, expectations, and norms that the company embraces.

Company culture is a culmination of many things:

  • The industry the company works within

  • Management and communication style

  • Company values, ethics, and principles

  • Long-term vision

  • Systems and procedures in place

  • Habits

  • The clients of the company

This list doesn’t even round out the list of things that can impact company culture. It’s a spiderweb of different experiences and qualities that encompass the total environment.

Similarly to how a cake is made up of butter, sugar, and flour, but isn’t any one of those things individually. An organization’s culture is the product of several aspects of its functioning.

While this reads as a very ambiguous definition, there are concrete ways to understand how company culture works and alter your corporation’s environment for the better.

How Does Company Culture Work?

A company can either handle its culture passively or actively. A passive organization doesn’t pay any mind to the culture they’re reaping and simply conducts their business.

An active company recognizes that its culture affects its employees and the general environment. Knowing this, they actively try to cultivate a company culture that works best for them and their staff.

Whether a company is active or passive in the establishment of its culture, it happens regardless. Company culture is inescapable for businesses because culture exists wherever a collection of individuals exists.

Components Of Company Culture

Company culture arises from a variety of factors, but it is important to recognize some of its main components. These include:

  • Mission and values. A company’s culture usually begins with its purpose for existing. A company is trying to achieve something in some sort of way, and this is defined by the mission and values of the company. These direct all future actions.

  • Social and professional norms. Expectations play a big role in developing a culture. Employees react to what is considered normal and good. This is especially true for communication as well as recreational opportunities.

  • Relationships between employees and management. Power dynamics reveal the true nature of a company’s culture. If employees feel like they are in a healthy work culture, it usually means they have a healthy working relationship with their peers and superiors.

  • Growth opportunities. Whether or not a company offers growth to its employees will greatly affect the culture. Employees who can achieve professional development to approve their careers will have a more positive approach than those who feel stuck in a dead end job.

  • Aesthetics and resources. The superficial aspects of a company can shape its culture. How a work environment is structure, what types of resources are offered, what messages are promoted, all go to create the “costume” that the company wears.

Examples of Company Culture

With the concept of a company giving off a particular vibe in mind, let’s consider what a workplace culture looks like.

Below are some examples of common company cultures:

  1. Traditional. When imagining a company that fosters a traditional culture, picture tight dress codes, hierarchy leadership, and long-standing ways of doing things. There’s often a strictness to working for a company that has a traditional culture because they’re less flexible than other kinds of professional environments.

    They have procedures in place to handle workplace situations administratively and discourage straying from established systems.

    Traditional company cultures are usually found in industries that value security over time, such as government or corporate positions. While embracing a conventional culture does help a company stand the test of time, it also limits the chance for free-thinking and creativity.

  2. Team-focused. A business that makes functioning as a unit priority in their company would be considered a team-focused culture. One of their biggest considerations in the hiring process is how well a candidate would fit on their team because they view staff as the backbone of their success.

    Companies who prescribe to this belief system might also organize more activities to encourage employee bonding and building connections on the team.

    Team-focused company cultures create a more intimate workplace that adapts to fit their employees. It can be an excellent environment to establish small businesses because it promotes happy and loyal employees.

    As a company expands and takes on more staff members, a team-focused mentality is more difficult to maintain.

  3. Forward-thinking. Forward-thinking organizations are all about what the latest and greatest new thing is. They embrace creativity and collaborative environments because they believe that’s what breeds innovation.

    Companies that adopt a forward-thinking culture are usually working on a project that’s groundbreaking in their industry at any given time.

    The reason that forward-thinking companies crave these qualities in their staff and product is that it leads to growth in the market. Everyone notices the brand with a product that nobody else has ever attempted before. Since innovative companies are always trying new things, many of their pursuits are very risky.

  4. Competitive edge. Many businesses put all their attention into getting ahead in their market. These companies are deemed to have a culture of valuing a competitive edge.

    Businesses interested in getting ahead of their industry competition track their success through growth and profits over time.

    Industries that usually motivate a competitive spirit in their employees are ones like sales. Employees working in sales professions are offered incentives, like commission, to make the most money possible.

    The big benefit to competitive company culture is that it often turns an impressive profit, but it comes at the cost of the organization lacking a deeper purpose.

  5. Laissez-faire. A company culture that’s described as laissez-faire engages a more progressive and hands-off approach to management. They aren’t concerned with every task being done in a particular way, but they expect their employees to finish work when it’s due.

    This results-based theory of the workplace environment is attractive to potential employees because it eliminates the common element of micro-management.

    A laissez-faire method of company culture does improve employee satisfaction by instilling flexibility into the workplace. It also runs the risk of important deadlines not being met if an employee slacks off on their end of the bargain.

Benefits of a Positive Company Culture

While many companies neglect their culture and let the chips fall where they may, there’s a lot to be gained from considering it. Below are a few benefits of maintaining positive company culture:

  1. Makes decisions easier. A company that’s devoid of any defined culture doesn’t have anything to reflect on when facing challenges or choices. When your business has a clear set of values, goals, and management tactics, it’s easier to make decisions because there are guidelines to refer back to.

    For example, a company that’s culture is chasing a competitive edge would make the decision to improve its customer base and profits. On the other hand, a business that’s more team-focused would lean more towards a choice that enhances their team’s strengths.

  2. It brings in more impressive applicants. The most talented job applicants get many tempting job offers before settling on a position. For these people, a company’s culture is very important. Everyone has a particular kind of environment that they work best in.

    While some people might find a traditional atmosphere smothering, others thrive under the structure. Outlining a company’s culture attracts impressive applicants because it shows them what working for your team would be like. People like to know what they’re in for before committing.

  3. Builds a brand. When a company takes the time to define itself, and what they value, it inherently forms a recognizable brand. Having a brand name that people are familiar with solidifies a company’s position in the market.

    Think about the world-renowned tech giant, Apple. The brand name is known to just about everyone living on planet earth today, and their culture of innovation is as well.

    Forming a collective company culture inherently strengthens the brand as well.

Tips for Enhancing Company Culture

If you’re taking a hard look at your company’s culture, only to realize that it’s not exactly thriving at the moment, don’t freak out just yet. There’s always room for improvement in an organization’s culture.

Consider the following tips for how to enhance company culture.

  1. Determine your company’s current culture or lack thereof. Before a company can improve their company’s culture, they must assess what they’re working with currently. Many business owners find it difficult to objectively evaluate their company’s culture, especially if it’s not doing great.

    When you’re not sure where to start with a company culture evaluation, turn to the employees. They can provide observations from working on the inside and offer insight on where the company could switch up its approach.

    Once a solid base has been established for where your company is currently, think about where you’d like it to go and how it’ll be possible to get there.

  2. Improve company-wide communication. No matter what type of culture your company has, communication only helps strengthen it — improving communication within a business assists with productivity, employee retention, and coordination.

    Remember that communication is a two-way street that involves listening to employees in equal parts with speaking.

  3. Create a detailed action plan. Once there’s a goal in mind of company culture improvement, determine a detailed action plan for how to reach this objective. An action plan is used to outline the necessary steps that lead towards a specific and achievable goal.

    In terms of company culture, think about the smaller tasks that add up to the environment your organization wants to nurture.

  4. Conduct scheduled evaluations. Deciding on ways to improve and writing an action plan shouldn’t be all that’s done in pursuit of upgrading a company’s culture. Schedule check-ins to judge whether these tactics are still working well in the future.

    Something can be effective when it’s first instituted and then diminish over time. Keeping up with evaluations ensures that the company and its staff are always working efficiently towards their goals.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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