What Is Corporate Culture and Why Is It So Important?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Finding the right company to work for can take time, dedication and thorough research. However, successfully matching with a business that shares your values, goals and ideals can help you find fulfilment in your career. One very important aspect of researching a prospective opportunity is to look for an organisation with a culture that helps you grow your skills, supports your mental and emotional health and offers incentives you find appealing.

In this article, we define what corporate culture is, explain why it's important, list the common types, evaluate the role of a company's culture in the workplace and list examples of the various areas culture affects.

What is corporate culture?

Corporate culture comprises a company's values, vision, behaviour, ethics and environment. It's unique to each organisation and it can affect the company's public perception, employee engagement and team morale. Employees who share their company's goals, vision and values can often have a positive impact on productivity and company success. Companies with good and supportive cultures typically experience less turnover and higher levels of employee satisfaction.

A company might choose to define their culture with a culture statement. Culture statements, along with mission statements and core values, can reveal a lot about an organisation's priorities and behaviour. Consider researching a company to find if their website or resources offer information on their culture or values.

Why is work culture important?

Culture is important because it can heavily influence working environments. Companies with supportive, collaborative and encouraging cultures often seek the best for their employees. These environments can be rewarding to work in and can make the work you do feel more valuable and important. A good culture can encourage loyalty, productivity and positivity among employees. This can increase a company's bottom line and improve its public image. When looking for a job, try to learn as much as you can about a company's culture by asking questions about employee benefits, team dynamics and usable resources.

Related: Top Eight Reasons for Leaving a Job (With Example Answers)

Types of workplace culture

Different companies can have a variety of workplace cultures. When researching a company, try to determine if your values align with theirs. This can help you find a job that values your unique contributions. Some companies may possess unique traits or qualities from a combination of culture types. Here are several common cultures you might encounter in your job search:

Team-first

Team-first cultures value their employees and often hire people based on how well their beliefs and values align with their organisations'. Team-first cultures usually encourage engagement, loyalty and passion from their employees. When employees feel valued, trusted and heard, they're more likely to find satisfaction in their work. Companies can create team-first cultures by providing opportunities for employees to give feedback on management, organising social gatherings and appreciation events and trusting employees to accomplish their tasks without strict performance tracking.

Performance

Companies that emphasise performance typically encourage innovative strategies, trendsetting and rapid growth. They often hire confident candidates with impressive resumes to join their elite teams. Highly motivated, driven individuals who work well under pressure usually excel in these fields. This is because cultures that value performance often seek daring leaders who push boundaries, work hard and take risks.

Horizontal

Horizontal organisations are companies that place more emphasis on teamwork and collaboration rather than strict hierarchies and formal titles. Startups and small businesses sometimes favour this approach because it allows them to cross-train individuals and involve everyone in important decisions. If your workplace has this kind of culture, you can expect to take part in multiple company activities. Employees are often passionate about the company's success and share the company's vision and goals. They might have a close working relationship with members of upper management, like the CEO, who often take part in daily operations.

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Traditional

Traditional cultures can be risk-averse, hierarchy-oriented and old-fashioned. They often encourage traditional dress codes and reporting structures. You might see this type of company culture at a bank or a law firm. If you appreciate organised environments with clear expectations and proven success, you might enjoy working for a company with a more traditional culture. Even though companies with a traditional culture often gravitate towards established operating norms, they still embrace new technologies and many have adopted modern communication and operating strategies.

Progressive

Progressive cultures are typical of companies in transition. This could result from a merger, market change, new management or a buyout. They often seek opportunities to redefine and clarify their established roles, values and goals. This can present great opportunities to introduce progressive agendas and training that move away from more traditional company cultures. Employees who appreciate change and introducing new ideas might do well working for a progressive culture company.

What is the role of workplace culture?

Workplace culture plays a large role in most companies. Many businesses perform set functions, but their cultures can determine how they perform them. Some companies set up employee game rooms or encourage employees to express themselves with relaxed dress codes and company outings. Others have strict performance monitoring and discourage deviations from traditional job roles. Finding a culture match can be just as important as finding a line of work you're passionate about.

Company culture can influence your interactions with co-workers, your relationships with managers and your overall happiness, morale and productivity. It's important to find a good culture fit so that you can look forward to returning to work each day.

Related: Guide To Smart Casual Attire in the Workplace

Examples of corporate culture

Here are some examples of the different areas a company's culture can affect:

Intentional hiring

Try to look for organisations that hire people who are good cultural fits and who represent the company's values. Here's example language you might see in a job posting from a company that practices intentional hiring:

Example: Looking for a qualified, creative candidate with energy, humour and a passion for marketing to join the Max Learning family. We value diversity, collaboration and community and are looking for the perfect addition to our growing team.

Social responsibility

Consider seeking companies that are active members of their community. Here's an example of content you might see on an organisation's website if they practise social responsibility:

Example: At Max Learning, we believe in giving back to those who have given so much to us. We organise quarterly volunteer events with our staff and donate over 10% of our profits to local charity organisations.

Related: Learning About Diversity and Inclusion: 10 Free Virtual Courses

Employee perks

Companies that value their employees often show their appreciation for their staff by offering practical benefits. Here's an example of perks you might see listed in a company's job advertisement:

Example: Come join our team and receive competitive pay and benefits packages, a gold-level membership with unlimited access to any of our four facilities and a 30% employee discount on all our products and services.

Fun environments

A new trend among businesses, particularly new tech companies and startups, is creating fun and exciting work environments that diverge from traditional work settings. Here's an example of a job posting that might provide a clue into a company's environment and culture:

Example: Employees can enjoy access to our smoothie bar, bean-bag lounge room and video game projector setup in the break room.

Social events

Some companies like to host social events. These can be exciting opportunities for employees to interact and socialise outside of their daily work setting. Team building events, scheduled outings and corporate retreats can be great opportunities to bond with coworkers and grow relationships. Here's something you might see on a company's website about social events:

Example: Last year, our employees took part in a rock-climbing field trip! The theme of the trip was, 'Reach New Heights.'

Valued feedback

One of the most important things companies can do to create positive and thriving company cultures is to welcome and administer feedback. Consider asking in your interview about their feedback processes. Here's an example of an answer you might receive:

Example: In your first 90 days, you'll have monthly review sessions with your immediate manager. We routinely distribute surveys to get employee feedback. We really value the survey results and actively strive to incorporate feedback in ways that improve our company culture.

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