Workplace Culture 101: A Practical Guide to Building a Great Workplace

a laptop table with book and files on a shelve

Are you tired of dealing with grumpy employees and low productivity?

It might be time to take a look at your workplace culture.

Trust us, we know it's not always easy to create and maintain a positive workplace culture, but it's totally worth it.

In this article, we'll talk about the different factors that make up a company's culture, how communication plays a role in shaping it, and the steps you can take as an employer to foster a positive and productive environment for your team.

By focusing on your company culture, you'll set your business up for long-term success and have a team of employees who actually enjoy their work.

Let's get started!

What is Workplace Culture?

Workplace culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and behaviors that shape the working environment of an organization.

It is the personality of an organization and can greatly influence how employees feel about their jobs, their interactions with colleagues, and the overall success of the organization.

Importance of Culture in the Workplace

Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant, once stated:

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast,"

Meaning that the current culture within a company is more influential in determining its success than even the most well-planned strategies.

In other words, no matter how effective a company's strategy may be, if the work culture is not positive and supportive, it will ultimately hinder the organization's success.

Workplace culture is important because it can have a significant impact on the success of an organization.

Positive workplace cultures can foster a sense of community and belong among employees, leading to higher levels of team morale and job satisfaction.

It can also promote open communication and transparency, which can foster collaboration and innovation.

Positive workplace cultures can also have a positive impact on the reputation of the organization and can attract top talent to the company.

In contrast, a toxic workplace culture can have negative effects on employee engagement, morale, job satisfaction, and productivity, leading to high turnover and a negative impact on the organization's performance.

Benefits of a Positive Workplace Culture

A positive workplace culture is essential for the success and well-being of any organization. It is the set of core values, behaviors, and practices that shape the social and psychological environment of a workplace.

a women points towards a chart

1. Improved employee morale and job satisfaction

Creating a positive workplace culture can foster a sense of community and belong among employees, leading to higher levels of employee engagement, morale, and job satisfaction.

This can lead to better results and outcomes for the company, which can improve the company's reputation and brand identity.

2. Enhanced communication and collaboration

Positive cultures promote open communication and transparency, which can foster collaboration and innovation. Such cultures can lead to better teamwork and the ability to quickly solve problems and adapt to changes in the market.

3. Attraction and retention of top talent

A positive work culture can have a positive impact on the reputation of the organization, making it a desirable place to work.

This can attract top talent to the company and reduce turnover, saving the organization time and resources on recruitment and training.

4. Improved customer satisfaction

A positive environment can lead to increased employee satisfaction, which can translate to better service and support for customers.

This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, resulting in improved business performance.

What Makes Up Workplace Culture?

index fingers joining in

Workplace culture is made up of several factors, including the company's values, norms, and expectations.

These factors shape the behavior and interactions of individuals within the workplace, can greatly influence the overall organization's culture, and bring a cultural change.

Values are the beliefs and principles that guide the actions and decisions of the organization.

They can include things like integrity, respect, and teamwork.

These values are typically reflected in the organization's mission and vision statements and are often communicated to employees through various channels, such as company newsletters and meetings.

Norms are unwritten rules and expectations for behavior within the workplace.

These can include things like dress code, work hours, and communication styles. Norms are often established and enforced by the organization's leadership team and can vary depending on the industry and type of organization.

Expectations refer to the goals and standards that are set for employees and the organization as a whole.

These can include things like employee performance targets, customer service standards, and professional development goals.

Expectations are often communicated through job descriptions, performance reviews, and company objectives.

The Role of Leadership in creating Stronger cultures

Leadership plays a crucial role in setting the tone for workplace culture.

Effective leaders can create a strong culture by modeling the desired behavior, providing support and guidance, and fostering an environment of trust and respect.

This way leadership can improve workplace culture and create a work-life balance for the employees.

The Role of Employees in shaping a company's culture

Individual employees can also contribute to good work culture by treating current and new employees with respect, supporting their colleagues, and participating in activities that foster a sense of community.

By working together, organizations and employees can create a new culture and maintain a positive company culture that supports work-life balance.

Types of work culture

Here are the types of workplace culture:

  1. Adhocracy Culture
  2. Clan Culture
  3. Customer-Focused Culture
  4. Hierarchy Culture
  5. Innovation Culture
  6. Market Culture
  7. Network Culture
  8. Accountability Culture
  9. Empowerment culture

a girl and boy using laptops

1. Adhocracy Culture

An adhocracy culture is one in which there is a strong emphasis on flexibility, adaptability, and creativity.

In this type of company culture, employees are encouraged to take risks and try out new ideas in order to drive innovation and improve the organization's performance.

There may be a decentralized structure, with employees working in teams or small groups to achieve common goals.

2. Clan Culture

Clan cultures are those in which there is a strong emphasis on social connections and relationships within the organization.

In this type of workplace culture, employees may feel a sense of belonging and community and may work together to achieve the organization's goals.

There may be a focus on collaboration and teamwork, and employees may have a high level of trust and respect for one another.

3. Customer-Focused Culture

In a customer-focused culture, the needs and expectations of the organization's customers are the top priority.

Employees are focused on providing exceptional customer service and meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

There may be a strong emphasis on customer feedback and continuous improvement in order to ensure that the organization's products or services are of the highest quality.

4. Hierarchy Culture

a group of standing in boxes connected with arrows

A hierarchical culture is one in which there is a clear and established chain of command, and decisions are made by those at the top of the organizational structure.

In this type of company culture, there may be strict rules and regulations, and employees may be expected to follow established procedures and protocols.

There may be a strong emphasis on order and control, and employees may be expected to follow the lead of their superiors.

5. Innovation Culture

In this type of workplace culture, there is a strong emphasis on creativity, experimentation, and continuous improvement.

Employees are encouraged in an innovation culture to come up with new ideas and try out new ways of doing things in order to drive innovation and improve the organization's performance.

6. Market Culture

A market culture is one in which competition and market forces are the dominant drivers of organizational behavior.

In this type of culture, employees are focused on achieving results and achieving business goals.

This culture does not prioritize employee experience and satisfaction.

7. Network Culture

This type of work culture is characterized by a focus on collaboration and partnerships.

In a network culture, employees work closely with one another and with external partners to achieve common goals.

8. Accountability Culture

In an accountability culture, the focus is on achieving specific, measurable outcomes.

Employees are held accountable for the results they produce and are rewarded based on their performance.

9. Empowerment culture

An empowerment culture in the workplace is one in which employees are given the authority, support, and resources they need to make decisions and take ownership of their work.

In the empowerment culture, employees feel empowered and are encouraged to be proactive and to take initiative and are supported in their efforts to innovate and drive change within the organization.

Overall, the type of organizational culture that an organization has can have a significant impact on the way that employees work and the results that they achieve.

It's important for organizations to carefully select between these work culture types and strive to create a positive and productive work environment that promotes collaboration, creativity, and success.

Steps to Creating, Maintaining, and Improving a Workplace Culture

three people trying to figure out an issue

There are several steps that organizations can take to create, maintain and improve a positive culture in the workplace.

First, organizations should clearly define their company values, expectations, and strategic direction, and communicate these to all employees.

This can help to create a common understanding of what is expected and valued within the workplace and can provide a basis for decision-making and behavior.

Second, organizations should provide opportunities for professional development.

Such as training, mentoring, performance management, and learning and development programs.

This can help employees to improve their skills and knowledge and can support their personal and professional growth.

Third, organizations should foster a sense of community within the workplace, through activities such as team-building events, social gatherings, and recognition programs.

This can help to create a sense of belonging and support among employees and can foster a positive and collaborative work environment.

Fourth, organizations should prioritize open and honest communication, both among employees and between management and employees.

This can help to create a sense of trust and transparency within the workplace and can facilitate the resolution of conflicts and issues.

Fifth, organizations should foster a culture of respect and inclusion, by actively promoting diversity and inclusion and addressing any instances of discrimination or harassment.

Finally, organizations should be proactive in addressing any issues or challenges that may arise within the workplace culture.

This may involve soliciting feedback from employees, implementing changes based on this feedback, and regularly evaluating the effectiveness of these changes.

The Role of Communication in Shaping Workplace Culture

people connected through networking

Simply read the following different workplace culture examples and their impact, and you can determine the type of culture you are working in and how it impacts you.

Let's jump right into work culture examples and their impact.

Positive Work Culture Examples

Here are a few examples of positive workplace culture:

1. Open and honest communication

Employees feel comfortable speaking up, sharing their ideas, and asking questions. Feedback is welcomed and there is a focus on transparency and honesty.

2. Collaboration

Employees work together and support one another, rather than competing with each other. There may be a focus on teamwork and cross-functional collaboration.

3. Employee development

The company values the growth and development of its employees and provides opportunities for learning and professional advancement.

4. Work-life balance

The company recognizes the importance of a healthy work-life balance and provides support for employees to achieve it, such as flexible work schedules and paid time off.

5. Inclusion and diversity

The company values diversity and works to create an inclusive work culture where all employees feel valued and supported.

6. Recognition and appreciation

The company recognizes and rewards employees for their hard work and contributions, and there is a focus on appreciation and gratitude.

7. Employee engagement

Employees feel invested in the company and its success and are actively engaged in their work. There may be opportunities for employees to have a say in decisions that affect them.

8. Health and well-being

The company prioritizes the physical and mental well-being of its employees and provides resources and support to help them maintain their health and well-being.

Impact of Positive work culture in the workplace

A positive workplace culture can have a significant impact on employees, fostering a sense of belonging, motivation, and satisfaction.

group of people in a work place

It can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction among employees.

When employees feel valued, supported, and respected, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in their work.

This can lead to higher levels of productivity, as employees are more likely to go the extra mile and put in the effort needed to achieve their goals.

Toxic Work Culture Examples

Here are a few examples of bad work culture:

1. Lack of transparency

There is a lack of honesty and openness in the company, and employees feel like they are kept in the dark about important decisions or changes.

2. Unhealthy competition

Employees are encouraged to compete with one another, rather than work together as a team. There may be a focus on individual achievement rather than collective success.

3. Lack of support

Employees do not feel supported by their superiors or colleagues, and there is a lack of resources or assistance when needed.

a seat covered with spiderweb

Leaders are abusive, unreasonable, or unsupportive, and create a negative work environment for employees.

4. Discrimination or harassment

Employees are subjected to discrimination or harassment based on factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or age.

5. High levels of stress

Employees are expected to work long hours or meet unrealistic deadlines, leading to high levels of stress and burnout.

6. Poor work-life balance.

Employees are expected to be available at all times and are not given sufficient time off or flexibility to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Impact of toxic culture in the workplace

On the other hand, a toxic work culture can lead to negative effects on employee morale, job satisfaction, and productivity.

A culture of bullying, harassment, or discrimination can make employees feel uncomfortable, unsupported, and vulnerable.

This can lead to high levels of stress, anxiety, and burnout, which can in turn impact their performance and productivity.

In addition, a toxic work culture can lead to high turnover, as employees may choose to leave rather than continue to work in an unhealthy environment.

This can be costly for organizations, as it can result in lost productivity, the need for constant recruitment and training, and damage to the company's reputation.

Dos and Don’ts of Company Culture

As an employer or manager, it's important to create and maintain a positive and productive workplace culture. Here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind when it comes to workplace culture:


Communicate openly and transparently

Effective communication is key to creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture. Make sure to keep employees informed about important decisions and changes, and encourage open and honest dialogue.

Foster collaboration and teamwork

Encourage employees to work together and support one another in achieving common goals. Create opportunities for employees to learn from each other and share their expertise and experiences.

illustration of the word TEAM

Recognize and reward good performance

Show appreciation for your employee's hard work and achievements.

This can be as simple as thanking them for their contributions or offering more formal recognition through awards or promotions. This can foster a positive feeling among employees.

Provide support and resources

Make sure your employees have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. This can include things like training and development opportunities, as well as access to technology and other support systems.



Avoid overbearing or controlling behavior, and give your employees the autonomy and freedom they need to do their jobs effectively.

Ignore or dismiss feedback

Listen to your employees' concerns and suggestions, and take their feedback seriously. Show that you value their input and are willing to make changes based on their suggestions.

Discriminate or harass

Create a workplace culture that is free from discrimination and harassment. Make sure that all employees are treated with respect and dignity, and that any instances of harassment or discrimination are dealt with promptly and effectively.

Create a toxic work environment

Avoid creating a workplace culture that is negative, toxic, or unhealthy. This can include things like excessive pressure, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of support and resources.


A positive workplace culture is important for the success of an organization because it can lead to increased productivity, higher employee retention, and employee growth.

A positive culture can be fostered through clear communication, a focus on teamwork and collaboration, and a commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

It is also important for leadership to model positive behavior and to create opportunities for employee engagement and development.

A positive culture can create a sense of belonging and motivation for employees, which can ultimately lead to better performance and success for the organization.

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