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Company Culture: How to Choose the Right Type for Your Business and Maintain a Positive Environment

Stacked snack cupboard? Check.

Casual Fridays? Check.

Collaborative environment? Check.

Well, that’s it. You have company culture nailed down.

But wait… employees are still leaving. Are the ping pong tables not enough? Did the fridge full of craft beer not seal the deal?

Therein lies the truth behind company culture: It goes far beyond free snacks, team outings, and even flexible work hours. Even if you’re a leading business, 70% of employees still won't want to work for you if you have a toxic workplace culture.

So how can you fix, build, and maintain a positive company culture? Let us show you. In this article you’ll learn:

At its core, company culture—also known as organizational culture or workplace culture—is the shared values, attributes, and characteristics of everyone who works at a company.

A company’s culture should be reflected in how employees interact with each other, the work environment, and the leadership style.

Company culture can either be strategically built from the get-go or developed organically over time—and it’s extremely important to today’s workforce. In a LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Survey, 66% of employees say they want to know more about a company’s culture and values before they start working there.

Company culture has always been an important part of corporate life, but it’s gained more momentum over the last couple of decades—and it’s more than just a buzzword. In fact, 67% of CEOs around the world believe that, in just a few years, talent will focus more on culture and values than pay.

Modern company culture is often associated with Millennials. More than any other demographic (so far), Millennials want to find purpose and value in their work. For 57% of Millennials, work-life balance and personal well-being in a job are extremely important; they want to feel like they belong in their workplace and are supported, trusted, and valued. AKA: They want a positive company culture.

But it’s not just one demographic or another that craves positive company culture. From 42% of Gen Zs to 45% of Baby Boomers, having inspirational colleagues and company culture is a top factor for anyone considering a job.

The idea of a more casual or “clan” company culture, as we’ll discuss in just a moment, really took off with the rise of start-ups. When bootstrapped businesses didn’t have enough money to pay for pensions or benefits, they had to come up with fresh new ways to attract top talent, and the answer was often found in creating a unique culture.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “company culture?”

It may be the stereotypical, high-energy start-up scene with open-concept offices and snack bars. Or, maybe it’s an uncomfortable team-building activity where you and Sharon from Accounting ends up tossing plastic balls back and forth to somehow demonstrate the importance of interoffice communication.

Traditionally, there are four common types of company culture, as established by Robert E. Quinn and Kim S. Cameron at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor:

“We’re all a big family here!”

How many times have you heard that from a potential employer or employee? That type of culture is known as “clan” culture, or “family” culture.

Clan culture feels friendly and social. You probably have a lot in common with your coworkers—be it your interests, hobbies, or age range.

The leadership team is approachable and casual; they feel more like mentors than breathe-down-your-neck bosses. They're really focused on keeping the positive work culture they’ve developed, too.

Employee well-being is a top priority in clan cultures. They’re big on team building activities and encouraging employee involvement, not only in social circumstances but also in the day-to-day of the business. These are collaborative environments where employees are trusted and given autonomy in their work.

Clan cultures are common in start-ups that want to attract vibrant, creative employees who want more from work than just a paycheck.

Pros: Employees can enjoy a casual, friendly environment

Cons: If the line between boss and employee is too casual, it can become blurred. Maintaining authority and respect is key for leaders here.

Adhocracy culture is all about innovation and flexibility. The name is rooted in the Latin word “ad-hoc,” meaning “as necessary or needed.”

Companies in the tech industry (think Facebook or Tesla) commonly follow an adhocracy culture. In these workplaces, teams are always looking ahead and strategizing on how they can adapt quicker, build smarter, and gain an edge in their industry.

These environments are creative, fast-paced, and are led by entrepreneurial moguls who are all-in for their mission and business—and want their employees to feel the same.

Pros: You get to work in a high-energy, motivational environment.

Cons: The pressure coming down from those entrepreneurial leaders can lead to higher stress.

Here we have the most traditional style of workplace culture: the hierarchy. You’ll see this a lot in large, corporate businesses that have several departments.

Hierarchy culture is all about maintaining structure and control; employees, managers, and leadership all follow tried-and-true procedures, and they don’t stray from them. This environment has clear boundaries set for every employee, and the leaders are highly respected.

Pros: Goals, expectations, and positions are clearly laid out for all employees and managers.

Cons: It can often feel cold and lacking in community; the focus is on the business, not so much the people within it.

For companies with a market-style culture, it’s all about the numbers. These are cut-throat, results-driven environments that are focused on performance.

How’s their market share doing? Who’s not achieving their goals? Leaders at these types of companies are more demanding than any other and want their business objectives met by everyone on the team.

Pros: Results are set, met, and exceeded with clear execution.

Cons: Leadership is focused on the bottom line and often overlook the people helping them drive up their profits.

Keep in mind, there’s no one-size-fits-all culture that’s going to fit every company, and not every company will fit perfectly into the aforementioned company culture examples.

The best culture for your unique company is the one that accurately reflects your company’s goals, approach, values, and leadership style.

Having a positive, well-defined company culture can do more than make your employees happy. From profits to productivity, a positive culture does the entire company good:

Great company culture looks good—and feels good—to current employees, prospective employees, and clients. Whether they’re looking for a new business to work with or work for, knowing the employees at a company enjoy their workplace and take pride in what they do can be their deciding factor in moving forward.

Prospective talent will do their research to see what they can expect from your company beyond a salary and title. By having dedicated content around your company culture, your mission, and your goals—in the job ad, on your website, and even on social media— you’ll draw in people who share them.

It can also give your company a competitive edge in terms of attracting top talent, offering above and beyond a shiny title or high paying salary.

Remember those like-minded people we attracted thanks to the clear content you produced around your company culture? Well, they’ll likely stay for longer if you maintain your positive culture.

At companies with high-performing company culture, the likelihood of job turnover is just 13.9%, whereas companies with low-performing culture are 48.4% likely to see turnover. When people find a company that they click with, they stay.

Happy employees are engaged employees—and employees want to be engaged in their work. When employees are aligned with their company’s mission and believe in the work they’re doing, they put more heart into it. That authentic engagement is a natural motivator and can lead to a 17% increase in productivity.

Internal culture can have a direct effect on business. On the whole, a positive work culture inspires better communication, teamwork, and enthusiasm among coworkers, which can attract more clients and even increase sales by 20%.

In a recent LinkedIn survey, 38% of respondents say the company culture at their place of work needs to be fixed. This could be because the company culture was never clearly established, or it was, and internal issues led to its deterioration over time.

By auditing your company's culture, you can either establish your company culture or find ways to improve it, therefore creating the best possible version of your workplace. Here’s how:

Are your company’s values as clear as you think they are? Gallup research tells us that only 41% of employees clearly know what their company stands for. If you do have your values established, make sure they’re easily accessible and visible in your training courses, onboarding processes, and your company website.

Remember: A company’s values and mission statement aren’t the same thing as its culture—but they are the building blocks for it.

Of course, the best way to define your company culture is to talk with the people who work there. Set up casual one-on-one meetings over coffee or distribute anonymous employee surveys to get answers to questions such as:

  • How would you define our company culture?

  • What are our company’s values?

  • What is our mission?

  • What’s the most positive aspect of our culture?

  • What aspects of our culture can be improved?

  • What do you need from your company culture?

Whether you only have a few employees working from home or you’re a remote-first company, there are still plenty of ways you can maintain and build a positive company culture.

According to 42% of employees, the thing they like most about their job is their colleagues—even more than their pay, learning opportunities, and benefits. In your internal communications platform—such as Slack—create casual channels where employees can chat as they would around the water cooler. Or, schedule a drop-in “lunch table” meeting around lunch hours so coworkers can eat together virtually and maintain those friendships. Outside of social needs, be sure to keep communication clear and open at all times. Goals and expectations (be it working hours, workload, or results) should be clearly outlined and trackable, especially in a remote work environment.

Consistency is key to maintaining a positive company culture. From leadership to management to employees, everyone in the company should be aware of the company’s values and mission and be able to apply them in their day-to-day work.

Of course, this is especially true for leadership; if employees aren’t seeing the company’s culture in action, it will do the exact opposite of what they want: demotivate, demoralize, and make them lose their top talent.

Companies thrive when they attract employees that align with who they are, what they believe, and how they approach their work. When interviewing for new hires, make a point of discussing your company culture and how it aligns with the interviewee.

If it’s not a match—from either the interviewer or interviewee’s point of view—identifying it right away will help you avoid any obstacles down the road, hire the right employees faster, and help your culture flourish.

By crafting custom elearning courses for your employees, you can clearly and uniquely layout your company’s ideal values, mission, and environment to create the positive culture you aspire to.

Through online training and courses, your employees can learn 40 – 60% faster and retain what they’ve learned 25 – 60% better.

Ready to get started? All you have to do is send us your current training resources and we’ll transform them into the engaging, interactive courses you need to improve your culture!

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