Creating a healthy corporate culture (with tips)

Updated 4 June 2023

A company's corporate culture can have a large impact on your working experience. Corporate culture affects all parts of the job, including your personal working style. Finding a culture that fits your style of work can help you be successful and productive in your job. In this article, we explain what corporate culture is, the different corporate cultures you may experience and how to maintain a positive corporate culture in your company.

What is corporate culture?

A company's corporate culture is its values, ethics, vision, behaviours and work environment. Corporate culture makes each company unique and can affect many things from reputation to employee engagement and retention. If employees share a company's ethics, vision and other cultural elements, it can positively affect a company's profits and efficiency. An employee who understands and takes part in a company's corporate culture will also enjoy their job more. Companies with good corporate culture often have high workplace morale and highly engaged, productive staff.

Organisations might define their cultures in their company culture statements, which are becoming nearly as important as mission statements. When researching a company, make sure you understand what its corporate culture is and if it is an environment you can thrive in.

Related: How to define workplace culture (its importance and tips)

Different types of corporate culture

There are a few common types of corporate cultures that you might encounter when searching for a job. When you are researching a company, read about its mission statement, see if it aligns with one of the following corporate cultures and decide if that culture is right for you.

Conventional corporate culture

Companies with a conventional corporate culture are more traditionalist and risk-averse. This type of culture is also known as a hierarchal culture. These are companies that usually have established hierarchies, a company dress code and traditional communication and organisational tactics. Examples of traditional companies with a conventional corporate culture include banks and law firms. However, with the rise of new technologies and social media, many traditional companies are embracing new communication and collaboration methods. People who work in this culture may thrive in organised environments and seek to work for well-founded, successful companies.

Related: The importance of good communication in organisations

Clan corporate culture

Clan corporate culture describes companies that emphasise unity and collaboration between all employees. Companies that have a clan corporate culture want all employees to feel like the company is one big, happy family. Clan culture is often paired with horizontal culture in which job titles, roles and descriptions are fluid among you and your coworkers. Everyone in the company, from executives to interns, is encouraged to help create a collaborative, team-focused environment that is conversational and facilitates innovation. Startups and smaller companies tend to have a clan corporate culture structure.

Progressive corporate culture

A company with a progressive corporate culture embrace changes and developments in how people work. Having a progressive corporate culture means that there is open communication and employers place an enormous amount of trust and respect in their employees and their choices. Companies in transition have progressive cultures. This environment offers an opportunity to redefine or clarify roles, goals and mission statements. If you communicate well, welcome change and like trying new ideas, you may succeed in progressive corporate cultures.

Related: Q&A: What's the importance of trust in the workplace?

Market corporate culture

Companies with a market culture focus on the bottom line and prioritise competition and growth. These organisations are focused on results and meeting quotas. Unlike other organisations that try to foster communication and close relationships, market cultures have defined roles with a large degree of separation between employees and leaders. Having an overarching key aim is great for employees who want a logical goal to strive for and appreciate clearly defined positions within the company. You can find this type of corporate culture in larger companies that are the leaders of their industry.

Related: Objective vs. goal: what are the key differences?

Adhocracy corporate culture

Companies that have an adhocracy corporate culture value risk-taking and innovation above all. These companies strive to be innovative leaders in their industry. These companies look to hire confident, talented people who will be daring leaders and go beyond traditional limits. Tech companies are good examples of companies that employ an adhocracy culture. As these organisations are often trailblazers that are doing meaningful work in their fields, people who work in this culture are usually highly motivated and proud of their efforts.

Authority organisation culture

Companies that run on authority from top-level management positions have an authority organisational culture. In these organisations, employees thrive on competition and are always looking for ways to get ahead and make an impression. Strong leadership is key in this type of company. Upper management must be dominant, confident and able to inspire productive competition among employees. Managers set high expectations and apply pressure to meet company goals. People who are motivated by personal gain thrive in this type of company.

Related: 13 leadership styles and their characteristics

How to improve company culture

The companies with the best corporate cultures know what environment they need to create to have happy and engaged employees. When you're deciding where to work, look for these examples of good organisational culture. Here are some ways to ensure your company's corporate culture remains strong and clear among employees:

1. Hire the right people

Organisations can help maintain a company's culture by hiring the right people. To do this, companies must make their company culture clear through an online mission statement and by building their company's reputation. The company will attract people who fit their company culture if the company culture is clear to those applying. It is also helpful to remind the people in charge of hiring what types of people the company is looking for. Outline specific qualities that they should look for in new employees. Organisations that hire people who are cultural fits typically have a positive work environment.

Related: Creative recruiting: definition and how to implement it

2. Have a cultural ambassador

A cultural ambassador can help a company ensure that employees understand and comply with the company culture. Companies might identify people who best represent the corporate culture and are passionate about the organisation to serve as ambassadors. Their feedback and efforts to embrace what the organisation stands for can help a company grow and improve. Company leaders should be ambassadors for the corporate culture and show the organisation's values and beliefs.

Related: How to change company culture (with types of cultures)

3. Set goals

Helping people set goals at their job can make them feel happy in their jobs and like they're progressing professionally. As part of their corporate culture, companies can help their staff set personal goals and meet periodically to help them achieve those goals. They can give each team member something to work towards based on that individual's ambitions and ideas. How employees set their goals should reflect the overall corporate culture. For example, a company with a clan corporate culture should help employees set individual goals that also benefit the company as a whole.

Related: 33 corporate training interview questions (plus answers)

4. Encourage open communication

Open communication is often key to success in any company. Companies should embrace an open culture in which they encourage people to share their ideas and discuss problems. If people feel motivated and inspired, they will be happy and easy to keep. If an employee has questions or suggestions regarding the company's corporate culture, address them. A company with a positive culture listens to its employees' needs, ideas and opinions. This helps create a happier and more cohesive workplace and makes people feel valued.

Related: 4 types of communication (with examples)

5. Reward success

Companies with the best corporate cultures recognise and reward performance and achievements. They recognise every person's work throughout the year, so no one is excluded or discouraged. These organisations celebrate milestones and achievements publicly, such as during meetings or through company communications, and encourage staff to do the same for their peers. Employees will attribute their successes to the general culture and workplace environment, and work hard to preserve the company culture that helps them succeed.

Related: Organisational culture importance: benefits and examples

6. Have social events

Companies with good organisational cultures arrange social events, parties and outings that invite people to interact with each other and bond over shared values. This helps boost morale and helps people build stronger relationships across their teams. The social events should reflect your company's corporate culture. For example, a company that has a clan culture may want to have a collaborative event such as a potluck. A company with an adhocracy corporate culture may want to have a team-building weekend involving lots of group activities that encourage unique problem-solving and allow team members to show their specific skills.

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