Company Culture: The Essential 2023 Guide (Examples, Types and Benefits Included)

A dynamic company culture that supports and keeps your employees engaged is highly essential. It is the key to success, and it can establish a competitive advantage in the market.

Even though it is a rather difficult task to create a winning corporate culture, don't give up easily. Make sure you design something tangible, really specific and in accordance with your company's core values. Culture matters, because it's what drives people. And driven people will get you to the desired success of your organization.

In this guide, we explore why any organization should design and have one company culture, how it works, and what benefits you will obtain in your company if it relies on a set of shared values.

Table of contents:

  • What is company culture?
  • Why is company culture important?
  • The company culture types
  • How does company culture work?
  • Benefits of having a company culture
  • 10 Examples of company culture from leading companies
  • Company culture best practices
  • Words describing great company culture

What is company culture?

Company culture refers to a shared set of workplace values, standards, beliefs, symbols, attitudes, and behaviors of a company and its employees. All these reflect how employees and management make decisions, act, and generally feel about where they work and their actual work activity. It can also impact the company’s clients if we talk about the relationship between employee-client/customer.

When speaking about company culture, we can also use the following terms: organizational culture, corporate culture, or workplace culture.

Since we clarify what corporate culture is, we also need to be aware of what is not. People tend to link this concept with superficial perks offered to employees, like discount cards, karaoke nights, fruit days, or free welcome gifts. These things do not define a company’s culture, although they may be considered parts of it and may indicate a specific type of workplace environment.

Why is company culture important?

Company culture is important because it sets the tone for how employees work together, how they interact with customers and partners, how they are motivated and engaged, and how they are perceived in the industry. It helps define the values and goals of the organization, which can serve to foster a sense of loyalty and trust amongst staff members. Furthermore, it can be used as a tool to attract and retain quality talent, as well as to help establish an appealing brand image and identity. Finally, having a strong company culture can lead to higher productivity levels, improved morale, and a more positive work environment.

The company culture types

If we want to differentiate types of company cultures, we should say there are four main varieties:

  • Type 1 - the Clan Culture - where the focus is always on the inside. The common values in such a culture are teamwork, equal integration, flexibility, and discretion. It’s that type of company where everyone is one big family. The advantage is that employee engagement is over the roof in these cultures. Still, as a disadvantage, it may be mentioned that it’s challenging to maintain this family atmosphere once a company grows.
  • Type 2 - the Informal Culture - the main focus of this one is innovation and risk-taking. These cultures inspire the employees to be creative, and this is the key to external success. As a benefit, this type is key to significant profits and a better reputation for the company. Still, there is also a drawback: being always at risk can bring danger, and new ideas may not be implemented, and the threat of failure exists.
  • Type 3 - the Market Culture - as the name says it, these cultures will target competition, growth, and stability. Everything in the business works, having in mind one goal: profitability. These types of companies are usually successful, so employees will also be happy and motivated. On the other hand, since decisions are to numbers, some employees may find it hard to develop professionally and creatively.
  • Type 4 - the Hierarchy Culture - the classic, traditional culture, where it’s all about structure, stability, and control. The inside is more important than the outside. There is a standard chain of command, and everyone knows what he’s supposed to do and what’s expected of him. As an advantage, working in such a company, there is always discipline and well-defined processes to reach its objectives. As a drawback, this leaves little room for employee creativity, and feedback is not very used at this level.

There is much more to be said and explained about these four types, and here you can find a complex discussion.

How does company culture work?

There are two ways of functioning in this area:

  • We have the traditional companies that create and implement specifically a workplace culture. So, they make it a purpose to develop this set of shared values.
  • And we have more casual companies, where the workplace culture practically creates itself, as a result of the sum of decisions made over time.

There is another way to differentiate organizational cultures:

We have the ones with the traditional hierarchy style, where employees have a clear understanding of their role and responsibility. Still, if they want to advance in higher positions, they need to go through a rigid and formal process.

There are the opposite companies, where teamwork is hugely valued, and employees can easily engage in new tasks and projects without formalities.

There are no rules to obey or standards of size. Even though traditionally a large multinational with over 500 employees may fall into the first category, it is not unheard of to get a bit loose with the hierarchy. It depends a lot on the people, both employees and management.

The team of LaConte Consulting made a wonderful infographic about the implications of org culture, with the visible parts and the less visible ones.

"Company culture has the same effect on people as money. It doesn't change people, but it grants them the license to be more of who they already are. For almost every trait, people can operate within a range, not just at a fixed point. Culture sets the point within their range."

Shreyas Doshi, Stripe


Culture and reputation

Your company’s culture will widely influence your organization’s reputation, not only internally but also externally. A great culture is well-known for keeping employees engaged and repaying great work. Culture helps to attract and retain top talent. Recruiting will be a piece of cake once people out there know that your employees are proud of their employer and their workplace.

A survey backs up this information, highlighting that 66% of job seekers are focused on researching a company’s culture and core values primarily.

Benefits of having a company culture

Make no mistake. Company culture is a MUST, not a maybe. It is crucial to company growth, increased productivity, an excellent reputation, stability, retention, and so many more. Let’s go over the benefits:

  1. It builds a healthier workplace - you can't guarantee each employee will be stress-free every day but taking all the steps to create a lively atmosphere is one of the successful company features. You can have happier employees if you choose to find the perfect work-life balance for them. In these times, those having families resent taking work-related stress home with them, so offering remote work as part of your culture may be a great asset. More and more people nowadays are focused on finding a job that provides a healthy work-life balance.

  2. Boosts overall productivity - It is a no brainer: engaged employees who are proud of their work and their employer tend to work harder and better. So, productivity will improve. Having a good work ethic and a high level of performance among your team can only lead to tremendous success in the long run.
    Note: By using novel HR management software you can also boost productivity in your business. Learn how.
  3. It creates a better framework for decision-making - having a precise set of values. The mission and vision support your employees when faced with decision-making. This way, they know they find clear answers and guidelines, making it easy to make decisions in compliance with the company’s goals.
  4. Increased employee retention - hiring notable talent is not all. You also must keep them on board. Employees expect more from employers than just the paycheck or health insurance. They seek an environment that cherishes teamwork, knowledge sharing, active communication, and collaboration and rewards positive attitudes and behavior.
    TIP: If you're interested about retaining your staff, we have a 10 steps retention strategy that is easy to follow.
  5. Brings higher profits - a company that values employees over profit is rewarded in the end. Employees who get a positive vibe regarding the work environment will be motivated to work for the organization’s performance.

10 Examples of company culture from leading companies

Company culture consists of so many trivial things, but also big ones:

  1. Google's "Googliness" Culture: This culture puts a strong emphasis on employees feeling comfortable and enjoying their work with trust and fairness in the workplace. 
  2. Apple's 'Think Different' Culture: This company culture encourages creative thinking and innovation, focusing on breaking the mold and doing things differently. 
  3. Zappos' 'Customer Service First' Culture: This culture puts customers first, putting the customer experience at the center of the company's goals. 
  4. Amazon's 'Work Hard, Play Harder' Culture: This culture emphasizes hard work and dedication while also recognizing the importance of having fun and taking time for breaks. 
  5. Microsoft's 'Committed to Excellence' Culture: This culture emphasizes an environment of continual learning, growth, and innovation.
  6. Airbnb's 'Be a Host' Culture: This culture is focused on being hospitable and creating a welcoming environment for all employees, customers, and partners alike. 
  7. Slack's 'Resourceful & Responsive' Culture: This culture encourages employees to be resourceful and responsive to customer needs. 
  8. Uber's 'Ride with Responsibility' Culture: This culture puts safety first and focuses on providing responsible and reliable services for both riders and drivers. 
  9. LinkedIn's 'Connect & Collab' Culture: This culture encourages collaboration and communication within the organization and among its members. 
  10. Dell's 'Always Innovating' Culture: This culture emphasizes constant innovation and improvement, emphasizing the importance of building new things.

Company culture best practices

Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” - Anne M. Mulcahy

Building a healthy, positive company culture is not an easy task, but any organization can achieve it. It takes time. It is a process that should not be expedited. 

Here are some on-point tips on how to start working on your corporate culture:

  1. Set up a set of company values

    Core values are just words when not put into action. Upper management and HR staff will have to be trendsetters for the employees when it comes to following these values. The top candidates will always research your organization before applying, and they will see if your mission, vision, and values are respected.

  2. Establish company goals

    Don’t think about sales standards or KPI’s. A company goal is a reason someone founded that company, the primary purpose. 

    Goals are a big part of your company culture because it usually significantly impacts the outside. You need to form your company’s goal into a single, catchy phrase that sends the perfect message.

  3. Implicate the whole team

    The general attitude of a company’s workforce is key to the corporate culture. Maintaining a positive atmosphere may go a long way, but it is not enough.

    Continue reading about: Effective team management strategies

  4. Always show appreciation for everyone’s work. It is a small thing, but particularly important.

    Discover what motivates your team and make sure you offer them the opportunities to grow, to take on new challenges. Motivated and engaged employees are happy employees.

    Be there for your team. Even the “close-to-perfect” employee needs support occasionally, whether professionally or personally. A leader should always show its team he/she is there for them in times of need.

  5. Adhere to company culture best practices

    How exactly? By setting the tone, setting an example: leaders should give examples of rule-following every day for the employees to start acting accordingly. Then, every time a team member works in compliance with the best practices, he/she should be recognized. Finally, make sure to give feedback. Even if it is negative, employees need it to change their behavior.

Words describing great company culture

If you're looking for some great terminology to describe your company culture, we have some 30 words:

Positive, inclusive, transparent, collaborative, inspiring, empowering, energizing, open-minded, innovative, supportive, flexible, value-driven, meaningful, respectful, fun, responsible, successful, rewarding, inspired, passionate, caring, creative, progressive, productive, forward-thinking, dynamic, visionary, caring, team-oriented, trustworthy, and growth-oriented.

These are just a few tips. It takes arduous work and dedication to create a winning corporate culture, but as we’ve seen, the benefits of having one are huge, so it is worth it!

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