The mindset of a post-pandemic workforce has changed. Today, company culture is a major deciding factor for America’s job seekers. A 2022 study found that more than half of US workers consider resignation if the organizational culture falls short . Every company needs core beliefs and values, and the culture it fosters becomes its personality. And like people, a company’s personality can be attractive, sincere, impersonal, or toxic.
Workplace culture matters because people are a company’s number one asset. The Great Resignation has shown the struggle organization’s with poor culture have had to attract and retain quality employees. It is the business that fosters and creates a positive company culture that engages and keeps the best talent. This piece looks at how to build company cultures that benefit an organization from both employees’ and employers’ perspectives.
How Leaders & Employees Contribute to Culture
To build a strong company culture, you need commitment from employers and employees. Effective leadership is fundamental for setting the foundation for change. But the leadership styles and strategies must inspire and influence a positive response to succeed. Influential leaders provide a sense of purpose, vision, and coaching for those they manage. But shaping culture is not the responsibility of only leadership.
Employees’ Contribution to Positive Cultures
Employees respond better to leaders who cultivate trust and open and transparent communication. It cannot be overstated how important trust is in developing this relationship. Trust is the foundation for any meaningful change in an organization. This helps improve healthy relations, resulting in positive workplace interactions. Happy workers are more likely to understand and stay motivated through change. Thus, they become willing students of team-building exercises and keen advocates of your company’s values.
Culture Affects Wellbeing & Performance
It’s no secret that the most successful companies are those with a happy workforce. Employees who love waking up enjoy the people they work with and the jobs they do. An APA survey saw how valuing workers positively affected personal well-being and company performance. That’s the significance of a strong company culture .
Mutual Benefits of a Positive Company Culture
So the benefits of a strong culture affect all aspects of business operations. That includes top-down, bottom-up, side-to-side, and inside-out. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for organizations to build and maintain a healthy corporate culture. It’s a win for everyone, including your business, the workforce, and the customer and clients you serve.
This table highlights the positive influences of a strong company culture.
Feel valued and listened to Development opportunities Workplace satisfaction Enhanced wellbeing Raised morale Better engagement
Happy worker, happy customer  Values help define your brand Customer-centricity Approachable Reliable workforce Offers flexible options
Cultural Challenges for Companies
Attempting to change the personality of any company will have its challenges and critics. But resistance is usually rooted in fear of the unknown. Most issues arise when the leadership fails to make the purpose and processes of change clear. Or, when change is too fast. The way to address known or potential hurdles is to keep the value of what you’re doing front and center.
Open communication is pivotal as it keeps everyone in the loop and helps set expectations for the changes ahead. Therefore, it’s advisable to start with small victories and engage as many employees in the process as possible.
How to Build a Great Company Culture Around Critics
Learning how to deal with critics of cultural change will make the task much easier. People become more critical and reluctant when there’s a lack of something, for example:
Lack of open communication and training
Lack of visible roadmap or feedback from leadership
Lack of positive reinforcement and reassurance
That last point refers to the follow-up at the end of a cultural change process. Without positive reinforcement on how the change is making an impact, sustaining the cultural changes you made will be incredibly difficult.
Company Cultural Goals
Companies base cultural roadmaps on beliefs and values, which vary from business to business. Even so, most positive cultures share several of the same goals, namely:
Define a foundation of clear beliefs and values
Build effective DEI initiatives
Improve employee engagement and job satisfaction
Achieve better retention rates
More investment for in-house educational training initiatives and upskilling
Become well-known for an outstanding, strong company culture
Better attract ideal talent and customers because of the above
These are achievable goals providing leaders get everyone on board. Now let’s explore examples of what constitutes a strong organizational culture.
4 Examples of Company Cultures
The Great Resignation has created a shortfall in available talent across many industries. So the competition for attracting an ever-shrinking pool of taltented workers has become fierce. And it’s those companies with a strong organizational culture that attract and retain the best people. In fact, almost half said they put positive culture before pay .
There are four basic types of successful company cultures.
The Clan Culture
As the name suggests, the clan culture is tight-knit, inward-focused, and often family-orientated. It’s typically free from formal hierarchies and leans towards a supportive work environment. This arrangement often treats long-standing employees as part of the extended family. Thus, communication tends to be honest, open, and semi-formal.
Examples of companies with a clan culture are:
Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings Inc.
Pixar Animation Studios
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores
Redmond (Real Salt)
Chobani® (Greek Yogurt)
Potential Drawbacks: Some are overly cliquey and exclusionary, offering little opportunity for growth, especially in private, family-run organizations.
The Hierarchy Culture
Hierarchy-oriented cultures are well-structured and precisely controlled. They encourage employees to be efficient and do things by the book. The idea behind this culture is to maintain a content, knowledgable workforce and keep the business running smoothly. With a hierarchical culture, everyone is clear on the boundaries and expectations. This culture is a common structure for large, publicly traded and/or heavily regulated companies.
Types of companies that typically embrace the hierarchy model include:
Health insurance companies
From a business perspective, this is a highly efficient culture.
Potential Drawbacks: Younger workers often find hierarchy-oriented workplace cultures old-fashioned, inflexible, and deaf to suggestions for change. This culture can also find it difficult to adapt to changing market conditions, worker demands, and/or cultural norms.
The Market Culture
The market culture is primarily prevalent in companies guided by commercial factors with their primary focus on performance and results rather than worker satisfaction. These companies and workers are aggressive in competitiveness and dedicated to outperforming previous results. The people attracted to market-driven cultures have a certain mindset.
Examples of companies with a market-driven culture include:
Potential Drawbacks: The customer-first approach and shifting goalposts can feel chaotic and relentless. Burnout is a common consequence of employees working in these environments.
The Adhocracy Culture
In business, adhocracy is a type of fast-paced system that lacks any formal structure with a start-up mindset. It sounds chaotic, but it’s actually a benefit for modern, future-focused industries.
Companies that embrace an adhocracy culture follow the tech development advice of “fail fast” to adapt quickly to changing conditions and drive innovation. Team tasks are variable and they are often trusted to work on their initiative. The goals of adhocracy cultures focus on continual innovation and fast growth.
Examples of companies with strong adhocracy cultures include:
Start-ups, especially those still trying to define themselves
The aerospace industry
Tech, e.g., Google, Facebook, Apple
Potential Drawbacks: Only great for talented, highly-autonomous workers who relish working in fast-paced, constantly evolving, innovative environments. Can be unsustainable with less-motivated and flexible workforces. Burnout is often a common issue.
There are variations of these cultures, e.g., creative, purpose-driven, innovative, and others. And there is no one-size-fits-all, and some firms incorporate elements of two or more models. As statistician George Box reminds us, “All models are wrong, and some are useful.” Understanding your company’s dominant culture — or identifying the kind of dominant culture you’re trying to create — can be enormously useful. But how do you decide on the direction to take to build a company culture?
Match Your Company Culture to Your Brand
Successful organizational cultures rarely adhere strictly to a particular type. Instead, they amalgamate concepts tailored to the business’ brand. Google is an excellent example of this. Its cultural foundation aligns closely with the adhocracy model above. But Google also embraces the clan ethos with its friendly, collaborative workplace environments.
Draft Your Company Culture Plan
Your draft plan should align with the values, purpose, and practices that characterize your organization. As you prepare, remember to put people first, prioritizing the needs of your workforce. Here are three tips to help draft your culture plan.
Invite all employees to take part in your cultural change process
Make it clear how workers can assist throughout the change journey
Ask everyone to complete a company culture questionnaire
Measure Survey Feedback to Transform Culture
Consider giving employees the choice to be anonymous when doing the questionnaire. Anonymity often yields a more honest response to survey questions. Also, ensure your survey covers all the essential cultural topics as they relate to your plans.
The feedback you get from the survey should provide valuable data to work from. It’s an excellent way to understand the obstacles and opportunities as your employees see them. Knowing how the workforce feels helps leaders focus effort where it matters most. And that helps to shape a culture plan that works for the company and its people.
Most successful organizational cultures will include the following:
Acknowledge contributions made by all team members
Value and encourage continual employee feedback
Support collaboration and engagement
Embrace continual learning and worker development
Personalize the employee experience
Leadership informed by company values
That last point is highly relevant to today’s workers and job seekers.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace ensures all employees feel appreciated. It is critical part of any respectful workplace culture, welcoming everyone. DEI creates a sense of belonging and empathy within a company. Furthermore, businesses embracing DEI attract and retain a diverse set of talents.
EWF Corporate Cultural Workshops
EWF’s corporate workshops help leaders gain a better understanding of leadership styles. With our expert guidance, leaders can better embrace DEI initiaitves and manage diverse teams while building trust and resilience. Moreover, our custom workshops cover all facets necessary for you to build your strong and unifying company culture.
Beware of Internal and International Culture Clash
Cultural conflicts can occur directly within the broader company or one of its departments. These conflicts arise when there’s a clash—intentional or accidental—between cultural values and beliefs. Such rifts can be particularly damaging to companies that interact internationally.
To avoid or reduce the potential for cultural clashes, start the conversation early. That means all stakeholders should discuss their concerns and shared values and be open to compromise on a solution that works best for all involved..
Toxic Vs. Healthy Culture Survey In a recent survey of CEOs and CFOs of major companies, 85% of participants agree that toxic cultures provoke unethical behavior. In the same study, 9 out of 10 respondents believe that improving organizational culture may increase a company’s value by up to 80% .
Remote Working and Employee Buy-in
The modern expectations of the workplace has shifted. Employees are less likely to stay with unappealing jobs, even if they pay well. Today’s job seekers and employees are attracted to organizations that embrace more flexibility. On the whole, an employer that supports remote, hybrid working, flexible hours, and generous benefits has the edge over those that don’t.
Generally speaking, the option to work in-office, remotely, or while on the go has massive appeal. Of course, some organizations cannot be remote due to the nature of their business, regulation compliance, or other business issues. However, when the question of flexible work is one of culture or change resistance, it’s important to know that younger workers appreciate the autonomy to choose how, when, and where they work.
By adapting to the worker’s needs, the worker, in turn, is more closely-aligned to your company’s cultural view. And that results in a happier, more productive arrangement.
Your Company Culture Statement
Create an honest company culture statement to define your business. It will help lift your profile and improve your reputation with customers and job seekers. This statement should also go some way to resonate with the communities you serve.
Use the points below as a guide to form your plan’s outline.
Describe what it is you do
Explain your company’s core values
Make it clear what drives you, e.g., purpose/mission
Highlight working practices as they relate to your culture
Spell out how you treat customers and clients
Add anything else you consider relevant. And, make your statement public to create a sense of accountability for your organization and people.
How to Measure Company Cultural Success
Workplace cultures are not static. They evolve with business needs, customers, clients, and staff. Because of this, leadership needs to periodically measure the current state (success or failings) of the company’s culture. The easiest approach is to collect and analyze relevant data for cultural metrics. The data you use will give you a sense of what’s working, what’s not, and areas you may need to change.
These metrics are perfect for measuring the health of your current company culture:
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Number of employee referrals
Employee turnover rates
You may choose others, but the metrics above should be part of your analysis.
Closing Comments on Building a Great Company Culture
How would you describe your workplace culture as it is now? If you lack a consolidate company culture, there’s a good chance your company could use some serious direction and structure. Every organization and its staff should be able to define its culture clearly and without hesitation. Only then will you attract and retain the talent needed to drive your business forward.
EWF’s Corporate ERG Programming
Does your company have Employee Resource Groups(ERGs)? How prepared is it for handling modern-day challenges? EWF’s corporate ERG programming provides employee-focused and run programs. We designed our corporate training to help companies like yours strengthen and reinforce diverse cultures. Contact us to see how our programming will benefit your ERG leadership and drive business performance.