What Is Workplace Culture

People working in a conference room .

Workplace culture is essentially the beliefs, values, and attitudes that employees share in an organization. It’s visible in the way they treat each other and the customer. It’s also reflected in how they perform tasks and conduct business around the office.

As a manager or business executive, you should strive to create a strong workplace culture that promotes teamwork and improves employee engagement. A good workplace culture positively impacts the ability of an organization to acquire candidates and retain talent. A weak or toxic one, by contrast, causes employee disengagement and may hurt the morale and productivity of your workforce.

The Ins and Outs of a Workplace Culture

One notable fact about workplace culture is it can form accidentally or intentionally. You and your employees can develop a workplace culture in the organization without realizing it. You can also deliberately define your work culture to what you want it to be. In this post, you will learn the ins and outs of workplace culture. We will also cover ways to create a positive culture in your organization.

How to Create a Good Culture in the Workplace

The mistake most organizations make is to let the culture form accidentally. Accidental cultures aren’t a true reflection of a company. They don’t align with the organization’s values, mission, and vision.

a group of people in conference room.

Accidental workplace cultures are also very easy to change, and they may vary from one department to another. For example, your supply chain department might have a culture where employees work all the time, even off-days. This culture may develop because of how the supply chain manager runs the department. The IT department, by contrast, might have a culture where everyone contributes to problem-solving and brainstorming. When the manager or employees leave in any of these two departments, a new accidental workplace culture might form from the new staff members that join.

Your goal should be to intentionally create a workplace culture that runs in your entire organization. But how do you do it? Which factors or people in the organization should you consider? Well, in most cases, workplace culture starts from the top down. The values and beliefs that founders, executives, and upper management have are usually passed down to middle-management and other employees in the organization. Here is how you create a positive workplace culture:

1. Figure Out the Current Workplace Culture

Before you develop a new workplace culture, your first action point should be to determine the current one in your organization. You can do this by having an open discussion with your staff members in every department. Ask them what they like about your organization and what they think needs change or improvement. Invite them to tell you how they solve conflicts and perform tasks within their departments.

You can also determine your workplace culture by observing impartially how your employees interact within the organization. Look for small details such as what they do during breaks, how they dress, and what time they come in and leave work.

Observe also how they communicate informally and formally during meetings. Whatever positive or negative results you get back, acknowledge them and begin to change or enhance the culture in your organization.

2. Define Your Ideal Culture

What workplace culture do you want your business to have? Your next task should be to find an answer to this question. You can start by laying out your company’s core values. They are the foundation of your organization, and they will help guide you in determining the right workplace culture.

For example, assume one of your core values is open-mindedness. If so, you may want to create an organizational culture where everyone shares ideas and feedback with autonomy.

There is no single culture that works for every organization. The one you have in your company may not necessarily be ideal for another organization. Try defining your own workplace culture, then communicate it to your other team members.

3. Communicate the Workplace Culture

Now that you’ve established your ideal culture, it’s time to air it out to your staff members. You can try holding a physical meeting where you remind them about the company’s core values as you narrow down the conversation to culture. Show your employees why the workplace culture matters. Set the expectations and tell them what they need to do to live up to them.

Remember that communication is only the first part of the equation. You also need to lead by example and thread the culture into your organization’s procedures and processes.

4. Thread Your Culture Into Your Processes

Align your workplace culture with your business policies and systems. Incorporate it into your onboarding process, work environment, and everything you do. Thread it into your pieces of training, communication style, and employee interaction.

For example, you can start hiring new employees for culture fit and not just for skill. As you interview a new candidate, try not to focus solely on their resume. Assess if the candidate’s values and personality fit into your workplace culture.

5. Set Goals and Metrics

Once you introduce the new workplace culture to your staff, help them incorporate it into their work-life by setting goals and expectations. Some can be personal, while others may be departmental and organizational.

For example, if you are trying to introduce a culture of employee growth and development, you can challenge your staff to take online classes to sharpen their career skills. You can also set a goal where each department conducts employee training on topics essential for their career or field of work.

The idea behind setting goals shouldn’t be to punish employees who don’t achieve them. It should be to encourage your staff to embrace the new company culture. Measure the performance of your employees and keep motivating them to live up to the workplace culture.

6. Reward Culture Champions

a group of young people looking a document in a conference room.

Another way to motivate employees to embrace your workplace culture is by rewarding and empowering those who live by it. Recognizing and rewarding them will help foster employee engagement and encourage your staff to embody the company culture.

You can also use this time to get feedback from your team on any challenges they faced when embracing the culture into their work lives. Try making the process as frictionless as possible by providing all the support and tools needed.

Creating a workplace culture isn’t a one-time activity. It’s an ongoing process that requires time, training, and commitment. Incorporating the culture might require effort, and it may attract resistance at first. But with time, your employees will embrace it more naturally. Try and establish open lines of communication where your staff can approach you whenever they feel unsure if a policy or activity aligns with the workplace culture.

What Are the Six Types of Culture?

Although each organization has its unique workplace culture, most cultures fall into similar categories. Here are the six types of workplace cultures you can find in an organization.

1. Hierarchy Culture

Hierarchy culture is one of the oldest and most traditional forms of workplace culture. It involves having an organizational structure where everyone has clear roles and responsibilities. There is a rank that runs from upper management to supervisors to other employees in the organization.

This culture type isn’t the best for creativity and innovation because there may be bureaucracy and blockage in the flow of ideas and information. You can find this culture in high-risk organizations, for example, government industries and health care.

2. Adhocracy Culture

Adhocracy culture is for companies and organizations that value growth and innovation. This culture allows staff members to take risks and create new products and processes. The lines of communication are more open, and employees constantly challenge the status quo.

You can find an adhocracy culture in tech companies and startups. One notable downside of this culture is that it can be challenging to focus on one task or project because the work environment is too fast-paced.

3. Market-Driven Culture

A market-driven culture is for organizations that focus more on market growth and employee performance. This culture may uphold values like hard work, achieving results, and being competitive. You can find it in companies like Amazon and Tesla.

A market-driven culture encourages employees to innovate and create new products that outpace the competition. The downside, however, is that employees are prone to stress and burnout in this culture type.

4. Clan Culture

a woman in a office using a cell phone.

Clan culture focuses more on creating a supportive work environment where employees are like a family. This culture prioritizes employees, and it is common in family-owned businesses and small companies.

Unlike hierarchy culture, clan culture encourages equality and openness within the organization. Employees working in this work environment are loyal, collaborative, and feel a sense of belonging. The disadvantage of clan culture is that employees can become complacent and unmotivated.

5. Customer-Focused Culture

The customer comes first in a customer-focused culture. This type focuses on keeping the customer happy and exceeding their expectations. Companies with a customer-focused culture provide employees with tools and resources to give the best customer service. Staff members are also empowered and given autonomy to address customer issues in the best way possible. You may find this culture in companies like Whole Foods and Southwest.

6. Purpose-Driven Culture

Purpose-driven culture stems from having a purpose and a reason for existence. Companies with this culture tend to be charitable and community-focused. They tend to attract partners, customers, and employees that share the same purpose. They give back to the community through charitable donations, among other ways to better the community.

What Does a Positive Workplace Culture Look Like?

The thing about workplace culture is you can’t really see it. It is entrenched deeply in your interactions and behaviors within the organization. If you want to know what culture looks like, you need to take a step back and then observe other employees from a distance. Here are the characteristics you may expect to see in positive workplace culture:

  • High staff morale
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Open and good flow of communication
  • Good work-life balance
  • No tolerance for harassment, inequality, discrimination, and any form of disrespect
  • High employee satisfaction and retention
  • Employee appreciation and support
  • Positive attitude toward problem-solving and challenge tackling
  • Flexible work environment

What are Examples of Work Culture

Now that you know how to create a good culture, it’s time to show you real examples. We will dive into the culture of a few world-renown companies to help you understand better.

  • Quora

Quora fosters a culture of learning and improvement. This company pairs new employees with mentors, and team members give feedback on each other’s tasks. Quora also encourage teamwork by allowing everyone to work with another employee on varying projects. The company treats its staff to regular yoga sessions, movie nights, and activities to keep everyone happy and engaged.

  • Zoom Video Communications

Zoom puts the happiness and satisfaction of its employees first. This company has a happiness crew whose role is to preserve the workplace culture using celebrations, volunteering, and events, among other things. Zoom also trains new hires before they start working by providing a mentor to teach them more about the company culture.

  • Chevron

Chevron has a company culture called “The Chevron Way,” which focuses on employee safety and wellbeing. This energy company encourages staff members to lead healthy lives. Chevron provides facility gyms for team members that work in the office and stipends for those who work remotely. Chevron also encourages employees to take breaks and support one another.

What Is Toxic Workplace Culture?

What does a toxic workplace culture look like? It is characterized by employee unhappiness, work conflicts, and reduced morale. Here are other signs to look out for in a toxic work culture:

  • Fear of management
  • Low employee retention
  • Lack of communication
  • High employee stress and burnout
  • Negative attitude towards work
  • Low motivation and productivity
  • Poor leadership

What Words Describe the Culture at Work?

The list of words you can use to describe workplace culture is endless. It includes both descriptive and non-descriptive vocabulary. Let’s explore a few words and phrases that help define workplace culture:

  • Nurturing
  • Innovative
  • Inclusive
  • Collaborative
  • Customer-centric
  • Performance-based
  • Supportive
  • Equal opportunity
  • Wellness
  • Fun
  • Hard work
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Creative


a man looking a a computer screen in an office.

Workplace culture stands for the beliefs, values, and attitudes shared in an organization. Strive to create a positive workplace culture in your organization rather than let it form naturally or accidentally. You can start by identifying your current culture, then change it to the one ideal for your organization.

There is no one workplace culture for every organization. Most, however, fall into similar categories such as adhocracy, clan, and customer-driven culture. Positive workplace culture is one where employees have high morale and satisfaction. A toxic one, by contrast, involves poor communication and low employee satisfaction and retention.

Workplace Culture Resources

In this section, you’ll find a variety of resources related to workplace culture.

When learning about a subject, sometimes you get tunnel vision, and you don’t consider variations on the topic. Broaden your perspective instead.

See the resources below to expand your knowledge.


Examples are a great way to get an overview of any topic. I’m a fan of learning by example because you can use it as a starting point and improve it to make the example work for your situation. Have a look at the examples available from the link below.

Latest Search Results For Examples of Workplace Culture


Whenever you plan on mastering a topic going through a course is one way to get started.

You can browse the web to see the types of courses out there and decide which course will work best for you.

It’s a good idea to browse the courses available to see how you can benefit from them. See the latest Courses Related to Workplace Culture.


I’m not particularly eager to read a lot, but I do like to browse through books. A book can be similar to a course because it takes a lot of research and time to organize information to create a book that is worth publishing.

I like going through the table of contents because it reveals many ideas and summarizes what to expect in the book. Google Book Search Related to Workplace Culture

Google Searches

Information changes all the time. That’s why I felt it’s important to put links to Google searches about workplace culture. That way, you can check out the latest information, whether through Google’s regular search or their scholar’s search, which focuses on more in-depth information.

Latest Search Results Related to Workplace Culture

Latest Scholar Search Results Related to Workplace Culture


Image search is a great way to gain more ideas and widen your perspective on any topic. So take a few minutes to go through the images and gain insights and ideas.

Latest Image Search Results Related to Workplace Culture


I like searching for news online because you can go through the latest news while diving into the archives that can reveal trends. See the Latest News Related to Workplace Culture

a man shaking hands with a woman in a modern office.Videos

I’m not much of a reader, but I am a visual learner. So I like going through the videos on YouTube because they’re usually a few minutes long, and you get a wide perspective by listening to other people’s views.

There are also a lot of TEDTalks available on YouTube that can add value to your research. See the latest Videos Related to Workplace Culture.