What Is Company Culture? How To Get It Right

Company culture is your organization’s personality. It's how your people, processes, and environment work together to achieve the organization's goals. It's also how your organization interacts with employees, customers, and the larger community — and how they perceive your company. 

The most prominent advocates of a company's culture are its employees. Benefits of building a strong team culture include high employee engagement, workplace satisfaction, and a deep sense of organizational affiliation or belonging. 

Organizations with good company culture attract employees who are happy to work with and be associated with the company. This makes them ambassadors and advocates of the company, building its reputation and attracting more quality talent. 

Read on to learn more about why building a strong team culture is important and how to improve company culture in today’s evolving workplace.

What is the importance of company culture?

The importance of company culture can't be overstated. Strong company culture makes it possible to build, maintain, and scale successful projects and processes, improve profitability, and maintain organizational continuity. It also fosters employee engagement, enhancing customer and stakeholder experience and overall satisfaction. 

This builds your organization's reputation, which is an advantage in today’s fiercely competitive business landscape. With an attractive company culture, you can draw in aligned business partners, employees, vendors, and other stakeholders. 

Good company culture is even more crucial for the latest generation entering the workplace. While they still value jobs with steady paychecks, they highly rate culture and emotional engagement for sustained motivation at work. 

Are there different types of company culture?

There are four broad types of company culture. Business professors Robert E. Quinn and Kim Cameron conducted foundational research on the subject and identified the main types of company culture as:

  • Collaborative culture: Also called clan or family culture, this type emphasizes teamwork and togetherness. Employees feel like part of a family, and values like relationships, morale, participation, and consensus are prioritized. A collaborative company culture encourages communication between employees, leaders, project managers, and vendors. 
  • Creating culture: Also called adhocracy culture, this type of company culture encourages an entrepreneurial work spirit. Employees have room to pursue new, innovative ideas and are rewarded for taking risks. This culture is popular in startups where innovation, learning, and growth are critical for continued success. 
  • Competitive culture: Also known as market culture, this type focuses on getting results. Employees in companies with a competitive culture work to win, gain recognition, and consistently exceed their project goals. Leaders may be ruthless and demanding to achieve the success metrics defined by the company.
  • Controlling culture: Organizations with controlling company culture are typically hierarchical. Rules and processes drive these work environments. Employees are rewarded for following existing procedures, and innovation and risk-taking are discouraged.

Why company culture is important in 2021

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought a widespread change in the global workspace. Mandatory shutdowns accelerated the transition to remote work and changed almost every aspect of our working lives. 

Many existing company cultures have struggled to deal with the current reality of work. Employees are working from multiple locations for the first time and juggling organizational goals with children and family care, personal health management, and social responsibilities. 

Wrike's remote work guide is an excellent resource for employees and companies navigating these changes. In these unprecedented times, it has never been more important to pay attention to your company culture to prevent employee burnout. 

How to improve company culture

Are you a business leader or manager dealing with these changes in the workplace? Here are some of the best ways you can improve your organization's company culture. 

Clarify your values

Start by taking the time to identify your company values. Write them down, revisit them often, and keep them visible for employees to emulate. Ensure you hire people whose values align with the organization. Know that employees look to the founders and early recruits as role models. It’s essential to create an environment with a clear purpose where people know their role in executing the plan. This allows teams and employees to take the initiative. 

Hire people that match your culture

When hiring, put culture before skillset and hire through trusted recommendations and trial periods. Ascertain that your new talent is experienced in your industry and a fit for your company culture type. When you hire people who naturally fit into your company culture, they're more likely to be self-motivated and succeed with minimal direction. Give new employees a trial period with a few projects to see how they fit.

Promote growth for each employee

Encourage employees to embrace challenges and take ownership over projects. Giving team members freedom to take the initiative helps generate new ideas and continuously improve processes to deliver the best service to your customers. Adaptive, flexible employees teach others to be the same. A company culture that encourages learning is vital to keep your organization innovative. 

Pay attention

Tune into your employees' moods and happiness levels every day, and watch your connection to them grow and strengthen. A tool like a Niko-Niko calendar can help to shine a light on where employees' moods lie every week, and when it may be time to check in further.

Reward emotional intelligence 

Qualities such as kindness, good communication skills, active listening, and giving great feedback are soft but essential skills that can make or break a company culture. Prioritize a candidate's traits over their experience level. If you have to choose between a less experienced individual who is a good culture fit and a more experienced one who is not, the former is the better option. Once they possess certain qualities and mesh well with your team, you will be able to set them on the path to success.

Encourage continuous learning 

Today's dynamic workplace demands that employees and organizations continue to learn, experiment, practice, and serve quickly to keep customers satisfied. Improve company culture by encouraging these habits in employees and also practicing them as an organization. Professionals flock to companies that are continually learning and growing. 

Leverage technology

The growing remote work culture demands that companies embrace technology to empower employees to communicate, collaborate, and maintain productivity. Virtual team building and events allow team members to feel supported and part of a community from anywhere. Using a collaborative workspace like Wrike helps you enable your team to do good work, maintain consistency and visibility, and handle shifting demands.

Encourage communication

It's important to create an environment conducive to open yet respectful communication and collaboration. Keep in mind that asynchronous communication is best for positive employee engagement and performance in remote work settings. 

Company culture examples to emulate

The best way to learn and improve company culture is to study some of the best working examples. Google's culture of innovation, Zappos’ of happiness, and Amazon's competitiveness are some widely known examples

It's interesting to note that each of these three examples is a different company culture type. Google has a creating or adhocracy culture, Zappos has a collaborative or clan culture, and Amazon is competitive. This shows that there is no one "best" company culture. Start from your company's core values to build and improve the culture for success. 

Can poor company culture affect profits?

Poor company culture can strongly affect the profitability of your company. Dysfunctional or toxic workplaces dramatically reduce an organization’s chances of success. 

In the book "The Culture Cycle," author James Haskett estimated that an effective company culture accounts for upwards of 30% of the differential in corporate performance compared to less culturally vibrant competitors. When teams and employees collaborate well and remain engaged and productive, their output increases profits and project success. 

Over to you

Now you know the importance of cultivating good company culture, it's up to you to lay the foundation of a strong company culture in your organization. 

Wrike makes it easy to manage remote employees and projects, provides visibility within teams, and streamlines communication on a central platform to ensure a single source of truth and purpose. Get started with our two-week free trial and build a company culture that supports and inspires modern workers.

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