Corporate Culture: What It Is, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do

Corporate culture is something that often confuses and frustrates leaders, but it is also one of the most important parts of any business, company, or organization. Corporate culture influences the way people interact with each other, work, communicate, conduct business, and much more. A positive and healthy corporate culture can help push your business towards success. 

But what is corporate culture, why does it matter, and what can you do to create a good corporate culture within your company? We’ll answer all of those questions and more in this blog, that way you can improve your company’s culture and achieve your goals. 

What is Corporate Culture

You can define corporate culture as, “an organization’s values, ethics, vision, behaviors and work environment,” according to Indeed. That definition is a little broad though, so let’s dive a little deeper. 

At its core, corporate culture is about values, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s how people react, how they respond, how they work, how they communicate, etc. Everything that occurs within your organization contributes to the corporate culture. From dress codes and business hours to treatment of employees and daily operations, corporate culture is a part of everything. 

However, there are a few things that make up the core of your corporate culture—vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place. These are the main six aspects of corporate culture. Though, as mentioned above, nearly everything in your company ties into corporate culture.

What makes corporate culture frustrating for many leaders is that it’s not usually something explicitly defined or created. Corporate culture grows organically, and it consists of many non-verbal or unspoken behaviors/attitudes. As a leader, attempting to analyze and formalize corporate culture can be incredibly frustrating since it’s not something concrete, like sales data or an operating procedure. 

If leaders don’t understand what corporate culture is and how to manage it, it can quickly lead to a toxic work environment and company culture, both of which can have negative consequences. 

All that said, changing your corporate culture is possible if you know what to look for and what strategies to use. But before that, it’s important you have a complete understanding of corporate culture, what it is, and why it’s important. For now, let’s take a look at the key elements of corporate culture. 

Elements of Corporate Culture

There are countless elements of corporate culture. You could go on all day about the various things that play a role in corporate culture, so let’s just focus on a few of the most important and impactful elements.

Core Values and Organizational Goals Being in Alignment

Your core values and organizational goals should be aligned if you want a positive and healthy corporate culture. If your core values align with your organizational goals, everything you do as a company will be in support of those goals. But are core values and organizational goals exactly?

Core values are your company’s guiding principles. They are typically more “big picture” ideas, such as honesty, continuous learning, sustainability, inclusivity, commitment to customers, etc. They guide your business throughout all levels, from top to bottom. 

Organizational goals on the other hand are strategic goals set to achieve a specific outcome and guide employees, such as making X number of sales by a certain date or providing better customer service by improving the call center. 

When aligned, core values support your organizational goals and can improve your company culture. Your employees will understand why the goals are important, necessary, and how to achieve them thanks to your core values.

Norms and Behaviors Influencing Day to Day Operations

The next key element of company culture is norms and behaviors influencing day to day operations. Whether you have a good or bad company culture, it will influence the way employees act, behave, and work. If you can create a positive culture, it will have a positive impact on your daily operations. 

Don’t underestimate the power of norms. Humans are social creatures, and we all have a desire to fit in. Social norms can be incredibly powerful when it comes to influencing behaviors, good or bad. For example, look at work attire. If the norm in your company is that people can dress a little sloppy, people will dress sloppy. 

By focusing on creating positive norms in your company, you can improve your company culture. If you create a norm of asking for help when you’re struggling or stuck, people will get the help they need. If you create a norm of not interrupting people when talking, people will listen more and let them speak. These may seem like small examples, but having positive norms in your company will have a huge impact. 

Transparent and Effective Communication

It should come as no surprise that transparent and effective communication are part of a positive corporate culture. Communication is the backbone of any business, and it’s a key factor in corporate culture as well. 

You and your employees should be comfortable communicating freely with each other, sharing concerns, struggles, challenges, hopes, goals, and more. Being able to comfortably share your thoughts goes a very long way in creating a positive corporate culture. 

Leaders Who Lead by Example

Lastly, it’s absolutely essential to have leaders who lead by example. Employees are going to follow the lead of those in charge. If you tell employees to do X and you do Y, they’re probably going to follow your lead and do Y. 

As leaders, it’s key to be the change you want to see. If you want employees to communicate more freely, start by communicating more frequently and openly with them. If you want employees to help each other out, you should start helping people out at work too. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but leading by example is one of the best ways to improve your corporate culture. 

Why is Corporate Culture Important?

So why is corporate culture important anyways? Well, corporate culture can have numerous positive effects on your organization. These positive effects can help you be more productive, innovative, and profitable. 

One of the biggest effects is on turnover and retention. According to MIT, toxic culture is what drove a large number of people to quit their jobs in 2021. In the post-COVID era, people are placing even more value on a positive work culture, and they’re willing to leave if the culture is too negative or toxic. On the flip side, a positive work culture can help you attract and retain employees.

Another big impact is on motivation and satisfaction. Employees want to feel like their work matters, and when they do, they are more motivated. With a positive culture, employees know where they fit in, why their work matters, and feel satisfied with their work. That in turn results in increased motivation. 

Company culture also plays a big role in your brand image. If you have a negative or toxic culture, it can follow your brand and hurt sales. People don’t want to buy from brands they know have bad work environments, treat employees poorly, etc. However, a good culture can boost your company image and drive sales. 

corporate culture

Corporate Culture Examples

To put things into perspective, let’s look at some corporate culture examples within two different companies—one with a positive corporate culture and one with a negative corporate culture. 

Uber

Uber is an example of poor company culture. Uber has long been known to not prioritize their driver’s mental, physical, and financial health. They encourage a culture of working as much as humanly possible and not caring about what that does to their employees. Their culture is often described as ruthless and insensitive. 

Unsurprisingly, this has caused them numerous issues. Many people simply refuse to work for them, and many of their employees have quit over the years due to their culture. Their public image has taken a hit as well due to their reputation, as well as the numerous harassment and discrimination allegations. And their culture has created financial issues as well. Needless to say, don’t emulate Uber’s company culture.

Google

Google is known for having a positive work culture. They are most known for the stereotypically tech things they offer, such as sleeping pods, free food, games, and more. And while those do play a role in company culture, Google goes beyond offering some nice amenities. 

Google has a clear mission, and their employees share many of the same beliefs and values. The employees and the company see their work as impactful and have clear goals in mind. They have an ambitious and motivated workforce that wants to work hard, help each other out, and achieve their goals. 

Team Building Activities for Corporate Culture

Before wrapping up, let’s look at some team building activities that you can use to create a better corporate culture. Team building can be a great way to change your culture by educating employees, working together, communicating, and more. 

Charity and corporate social responsibility (CSR) team building activities are a great choice for corporate culture. These can help you instill core values and get your team united around a positive cause that relates to your business. 

And if you want something a little more fun, an event like the Mystery Bus is a great option. You and your employees can improve your communication and teamwork skills, all while having some fun and building relationships. 

Sustaining Employee Happiness

Corporate culture is a key part of any successful business or organization. With a positive culture, you and your employees will be more motivated and ready to achieve your goals. 

Start improving your corporate culture today with TeamBonding. Our events are perfect for improving your corporate culture, so get in touch with us today. 

Anna Webber

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