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What is company culture?

An organization and its employees' beliefs and behaviors are referred to as company culture. It can be seen in how your employees connect with one another, the values they hold, and decisions they make. Culture begins with your executive leadership and when aligned with employee personal values, drives, and needs, it results in a thriving organization.

company culture

How does company culture work?

The social order of an organization drives your company culture, including cultural and social norms that define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected. The standards established become shared beliefs and values that your leaders can communicate and reinforce through various methods, including communications, processes, marketing documents, brand guidelines, and workplace rules.

There is no one-size-fits-all company culture due to a difference in organization size, industry, and growth trajectory.

How to identify company culture?

Identifying your company culture is the responsibility of your organizational leaders and includes recognizing the behaviors and norms of those who work within your organization. Often, your workforce will uphold standards and beliefs shared by the leadership or within codified documents. Company culture can also be observed when viewing how your company engages with the community, whether at conferences, volunteering events, or the public. Often, those interactions will speak to your organization’s intentions.

If your company culture is unknown, conduct a culture audit. This can include running surveys and interviewing current employees about the work environment. The results should offer you areas for potential improvement or growth.

Benefits of a positive company culture

There are numerous benefits to creating a welcoming company culture, including higher employee retention, better reputation, improved business performance, and a more engaged workforce. These results contribute to lower turnover, reduced recruiting costs, and a willingness for your employees to refer their friends and family to work with them.

Factors that shape company culture

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Recent focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) signal the creation of a specific company culture focused on fairness and access to opportunity. Companies that set the intention of DE&I can enable greater employee engagement, cross-collaboration, and a sense of belonging as they focus on a common goal.

Hire-to-Offboarding

Company culture is influenced by every aspect of the recruiting, onboarding, and offboarding process. Each influences company culture since it communicates to your employees how the organization handles transition, incorporates new workers, and trains them to be successful at their new job.

Communication

Communication styles contribute to your company culture, whether your leaders convey their messages with transparency or vagueness. Whichever style you decide to implement has a trickle-down effect to your workforce in soliciting feedback, developing organizational structures, assigning work tasks, and visibility of accomplishments.

Company Product or Service

What your company contributes to the world impacts employee behavior and company culture. Your workers’ perception of your product or idea and the public’s response all influence behavior.

Customer Influence

External clients are a key factor for company culture since your workforce serves their needs. A satisfied client positively impacts employee behavior, while an upset customer can bring down your company culture, including decreased employee engagement and satisfaction.

Employee Recognition

Whether virtual, in-person, or hybrid, how you recognize employee achievements influences company culture. Studies show that employees who are lauded for good work tend to be more engaged, resulting in a positive company culture. On the other hand, employees who are seldomly recognized or have their mistakes amplified will likely pass that behavior onto their colleagues.

Is there a difference between organizational and corporate culture?

Organizational and corporate culture are often used interchangeably. Corporate culture references a set of standards that define a business, including employee attitudes, policies, procedures, and hierarchy. Examples can include your HR handbook, the holidays provided to employees, and agreed upon business strategy. In contrast, organizational culture addresses the psychology, attitudes, and experiences of your organization and how employees interact with colleagues, customers, and external partners.

Your company consists of corporate and organizational culture. Leadership can imbue overarching policies, procedures, and hierarchy that your workforce must follow, while separate teams can create their own norms and values around the work they do.

Corporate and organizational culture can also differ across industries. For example, technology companies emphasize employee freedom and creativity due to a competitive labor landscape while financial organizations are more serious and structured due to compliance with regulatory compliance.

How does technology affect company culture?

Before the pandemic, many companies asked that their employees work in an office. With lockdowns requiring the workforce to become remote, increased reliance was placed on technologies including video conferencing, messaging, and email to help get work done. In response, many corporate leaders accelerated existing digital transformation efforts to support and connect their workforce.

The transition to modern solutions through digital transformation is also a result of company cultures shifting to embrace providing the tools employees need to be successful. With the prevalence of smart speakers, mobile phones, entertainment systems, and digital assistants at home, workers wanted a similar experience at work to be efficient, productive, and engaged.

Cloud-based solutions can positively impact work-life balance and help your workforce. These tools can influence their work behavior, foster collaboration between teams, and break down organizational silos, thereby improving your corporate culture.

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