What is Workplace Culture, and Why is it Important?


As a full-time content writer for an SEO company, I’ve written many articles. I help businesses to increase their visibility in search engines. Producing deliverables in a single day requires great mental strength and discipline. You have to be in sync with your editors and other co-writers to prevent double work. As a result, I’ve learned to collaborate with different types of people. Interacting with these individuals every day has made me realize the value of workplace culture

So, what is workplace cultureOpens in a new tab.? And why is it essential to create a positive workplace culture for employees and employers alike? Workplace culture defines the characteristics of an organization. It involves values, traditions, beliefs, and behavior dynamics observed in an office. Positive workplace culture is essential in improving the overall performance of an organization. 

In this article, we will be identifying the different types of workplace cultures. Through this, we’ll examine the characteristics of a successful workplace. We will also explore the importance of creating a positive and healthy culture for an organization. If you want to know more about the specifics, read on.

Workplace Culture Defined

Before exploring the different work culture types, we should first look at what ‘culture’ means. In anthropology, culture refers to the cumulative product of the following:

• Experiences
• Beliefs 
• Attitude 
• Knowledge 
• Religion 
• Traditions
• Other influences

It is a normative standard for how people behave when placed in certain situations. Some standards are products of arbitrarily imposing meanings for certain behaviors. Meanwhile, others are the results of inheriting or passing down traditions.

We can make an initial assessment of workplace culture through its members’ language and social cues. Specifically, these can be observed through their decision-making processes, work ethic, and other work practices. 

Building a strong workplace culture in an organization involves a lot of observation. We can gain valuable insights from employees throughout all ranks. Employers, too, contribute to workplace culture.

When it comes to employees, it’s helpful to identify their drive and motivation. Through this, you’re able to determine the ways to keep them productive. The process of defining a workplace culture also requires looking into policies and programs. Are the policies and programs in place aligned with what the workers value? Are there any policies or programs that need to be set to make the workplace better and more sustainable?    

We’ve written an article on sustainability with regards to the workplace. Check out What is a Sustainable Workplace? (6 Ways to Create a Sustainable Work Environment)Opens in a new tab.. It tackles different ways to develop a sustainable working environment. It also explores the benefits of sustainability for business operations.

Identifying your company’s workplace culture allows you to be able to affect change more effectively. Furthermore, you’ll be able to learn some new ways to promote a healthy workplace culture. This leads to happier and more productive employees, which is nothing but good news for its future. 

Difference Between Workplace Culture and Corporate Culture

In some cases, workplace culture and corporate culture are used interchangeably. However, they do have some subtle differences.

Workplace culture is the normative culture locally created and influenced by members of the company. It describes the disposition of the business. For instance, problem-solving decisions should be made based on the type of workplace culture. Take a customer service-oriented culture, for example. Employees will tend to address existing problems by getting feedback from consumers.

Meanwhile, corporate culture refers to the shared beliefs, values, attitudes, and perceptions of an organization. It can be a set of accepted behaviors expected to be carried out within the organization.

In simpler terms, workplace culture is the professional standards of the business. In comparison, corporate culture is considered the more informal and personal standards of the company. 

The Importance of Workplace Culture

Various research reportsOpens in a new tab. show that defining and assessing the workplace culture of an organization is crucial. It determines both individual and company progress and growth. It can also reveal existing problems in an organization. 

Recognizing its importance can guide business owners in influencing the performance of their organization. Here are some of the reasons why workplace culture is significant in achieving your long-term objectives:

1. Determining workplace culture increases employee engagementOpens in a new tab..

Interaction among workers is essential in building a business system’s foundation. This is where effective communication is nurtured and practiced. By increasing employee engagement, leaders can identify problems immediately. Boosting employee engagement also develops a feedback system. Workers and employers are encouraged to give their open up about issues.  

2. Reconstructing cultural operations in the workplace can impact employee satisfaction.

Research and studies have shown that workplace culture impacts the happiness and satisfaction levels of employees.  For instance, companies can make a workplace that will positively influence the mood of their workers. A good workplace culture promotes and prioritizes the holistic well-being and health of their employees.

3. Productivity among employees is directly influenced by positive workplace culture.

Producing quality and consistent services are also affected by the type of workplace culture. In some cases, providing specific incentives can work. Incentives can be in the form of bonuses or added benefits. Organizations should also be careful not to exhaust their employees. A workplace culture that is obsessed with productivity alone causes employee burnout. This can also have negative implications for an organization.

4. Having a nurturing workplace culture affects the retention rateOpens in a new tab..

‘Retention rate’ is a companies’ ability to keep employee’s over a set duration. Establishing a positive workplace culture helps the company improve this rate. The employee retention of mission-driven organizationsOpens in a new tab. is higher when compared to task-oriented or customer service-centered ones. Employees in mission-driven workplaces use the company’s advocacy as their motivation. They may be willing to do more to make sure a task is done well. 

5. Acquisition and efforts to gain more talent 

Fostering the workplace culture will help attract excellent employees and stabilize retention rates. This can also encourage creativity and innovation among the team.

Building a good and positive workplace culture is one of the pillars of a successful business. In a healthy working environment, there is laughter, humorOpens in a new tab., and a positive relationship among co-workers. This sustains the progress of the organization. As a result, organizations can attract more talent who are motivated to chase success. 

Consequently, it will strengthen the interaction and engagement among workers and affects their level of happiness and satisfaction. Recognizing how to cultivate a healthy working environment is vital. It ultimately affects how an organization restructures and remodels its workplace culture.

To effect change in your organization’s culture, change your workplace culture.

Six Types of Workplace Culture

There are several types of workplace culture designed to increase the overall performance of an organization. It takes into account workplace adaptability and flexibilityOpens in a new tab., among others. Some of these cultures and practices entail values appropriate for specific companies. For instance, some may focus on increasing sales and productivity. Others can emphasize the purpose and mission of their business. Companies may also embody more than one type. There can also be other subtypes not included in this list. Check out some of these culture types below:

1. Leadership-Driven

A workplace driven by strong leadership has a willingness to improve employees. They place value on coaching programs, training, and mentorship events. Leaders focus on developing their subordinates to succeed in their current positions. Leaders fast-tracking their employee’s ability to create a leadership mindset. And so leaders can reserve themselves for other business ventures. Employees can focus their energy on mitigating problems even without supervision.

2. Productivity and Task-Oriented

In this type of working culture, employees must have the ability to multitask. Different sets of skills are needed to accomplish a task. So workers should also be able to collaborate with others to develop strategies. Operations include completing tasks to produce quality outputs and deliverables. These also involve micromanaging details for inbound issues, for example, marketing teams preparing to launch new services or products. 

3. Sales Increase

One of the trademarks of a workplace focusing on sales increase is a rigid standard for hitting goals and quotas. Most of the activities are based on generating revenue for the business. Employees should dedicate their time and effort to achieve these benchmarks consistently.

4. Customer Service-Focused

Industries focusing on producing customer services is also a workplace culture. Organizations place value on training their workers to address a customer’s needs adeptly. These companies value their customers’ experience. To gain their trust, they develop a process to incorporate feedback from their consumers.

5. Mission-Oriented

Usually, organizations with mission-oriented cultures prioritize a type of advocacy. These companies are generally nonprofits or businesses for good. As such, this working culture is best suited for employees who are seeking personal growth. Mission-oriented organizations are also firmly dedicated to helping target communities. The services they offer are in tune with contributing to social change. 

6. Innovative and Progressive

This type of working culture encourages the generation of unique and progressive solutions. Innovation-driven working environments are typical in giant tech companies. You can also observe them in development and science-based industries. They value unconventional ideas to generate new trends or scientific breakthroughs.

Seven Cultural Characteristics of a Successful Workplace 

Now that we’ve explored some workplace culture types, it’s time to see how your workplace can become more successful. The following are seven characteristics of a successful workplace. 

1. Promotes Diversity

More often than not, workplaces will always involve individuals from different backgrounds. It can be race, social status, gender, or even age. Embracing diversity can provide various perspectives. It can also be a great asset to the organization. Cultural and racial sensitivity, in this case, should always be practiced and observed.

To know more, read Workplace Diversity Effect on ProductivityOpens in a new tab.. Here, we discuss the benefits of promoting diversity in the workplace.

2. Fosters Loyalty

Cultivating loyalty is also an asset of promising organizations. As turnover rates gradually increase, businesses struggle to keep their employees. Fostering loyalty means that the employee is invested in the success of the organization. Before demanding loyalty from workers, companies must first see what they can offer them. A simple workaround is looking for what the employee values and giving them more of that. For instance, some may value money. So perhaps, you’ll need to revisit their income based on the work they do. Others value recognition. Promotion may be an excellent way to address this. 

3. Has Effective Communication

Great workplaces also nurture effective communication. Organizational communication should focus on being transparent, proactive, and courteous. There needs to be agreement on what communication process needs to be followed and the tools to be used. 

If you are interested to know more, read Positive and Negative Communication in the WorkplaceOpens in a new tab..

4. Has a Clear Purpose

Successful company cultures have a clear purpose. All team members are aware of this purpose and are invested in its success. By knowing what they are working towards, employees can effectively translate their long-term goals into action.

5. Gives Constructive Feedback

Provide workplace feedbackOpens in a new tab. to employees, managers, and team leaders alike. Don’t just tell them what they’re doing wrong; focus on what they’re doing right as well. Encourage them to do more of the same. Doing so can also show a marked performance improvement. It boosts cross-checking behavior that is crucial for the success of any organization. 

6. Has Solid Teamwork

The culture of teamworkOpens in a new tab. means that companies value the ideas of many over the idea of one. Take time to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other. 

7. Promotes Consistent Growth and Development

Teams should be encouraged to acquire new skills to obtain future opportunities. Better equipped employees mean that they are better able to work.

Observing the Culture of Your Organization

Observing the culture in your workplaceOpens in a new tab. requires attentiveness. It’s essential to assess workplace culture in the organization objectively. There must be valid and standardized measurements for each business. Here are some of the tips to develop a sound cultural observation and assessment instrument:

• Ask the right questions. The organizational dynamics of each company may differ. Hence, it is recommended to tailor the questions based on the characteristics of the company.

• Seek employee suggestions. Proactively involve employees in the process. Ask about their opinions and recommendations. This will reduce the likelihood of biased questions. Since the results affect them, their participation is crucial.

• Discuss insights. Conduct several interviews and focus group discussions within the organization. Take note of any issues that may arise and try to address them immediately. This will help reveal agreements and disagreements in important aspects of the workplace culture.

• Build a consensus. As much as possible, you need to have all stakeholders agreeable to possible changes.

• Objectively implement changed policies. When the designated policies are agreed upon, they must be objectively implemented. Cultural changes in the workplace should be free from discriminating rules and biased regulations.

• Provide feedback. Communication among employees and their superiors should be constructive. In observing the workplace culture and implementing changed policies, both parties should receive constructive feedback.

• Hire another company to assess the workplace culture. This is the best measure to evaluate the culture in the organization. They can provide good tools and metrics to determine how healthy the workplace culture is. Beyond this, as objective observers, they can pinpoint some taken-for-granted realities.

Assessing and observing the workplace culture measures how businesses operate. It serves as a measurement to develop effective business strategies. It can also promote and cultivate a positive employee experienceOpens in a new tab.

Observation and assessment also determine cultural inconsistencies. For instance, say the focus of the company is enhancing leadership. Then the organization must evaluate how much interaction team leaders spend with their team members. They can reassess what core values they emanate and how they delegate tasks. You can also observe how you encourage your subordinates to translate the mission and visions of the company.

Organizations should actively integrate these assessment observations into their business strategy. This process may not be easy, but it’s necessary.  

Maintaining a strong workplace culture and connections among employees is essential. These can help in navigating through contingencies and other problems. Observation, assessment, and iteration can significantly improve workplace culture.

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Related Questions

What are cultural setbacksOpens in a new tab. in the workplace?

Cultural setbacks occur when there is a failure to meet the cultural standards of a workplace. Examples of cultural setbacks include the following: 

• Adjustment problems
• Ideas and concepts regression
• Destructive habit formation
• Culture prioritization

What are the signs of bad workplace culture? 

Some signs observed in a bad workplace culture include the following: 

• Unclear purpose or vision
• Ignored core values
• Unnecessary competition
• Disorganized management
• High employee turnover rates

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