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Establishing a Strong Corporate Culture: ☝ Tips, Types, and Examples

Jul 30, 2021 10 min read

Qvalon Blog article content

By: Jul Domingo

Corporate culture isn't something that is spelled out in a document, but it influences everything an organization does. It affects everything from employee retention to your bottom line.  

In fact, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe it could make or break a business, but only 12% of executives think their organizations are driving the right culture. 

So, what can you do to establish a strong corporate culture?

The secret to building a healthy corporate culture lies in understanding what it looks like. By doing so, you can determine what your current style is and adapt and improve it on every level.

Defining Corporate Culture

Corporate culture, also known as company culture and organizational culture, reflects the company’s values, behaviors, and habits. It’s also evident from the interactions between the management, employees, and customers.

Unlike a company's vision or mission, it isn't carved in stone. Instead, it develops naturally from the people who work there.

You see and experience it every time you're at work—from minor details, such as dress codes, to the major ones, such as how people perform and make critical decisions. 

Why is corporate culture important?

From the definition of corporate culture itself, you can see why it merits attention.

Let’s illustrate how much of an impact it has on your bottom line by looking at how it influences the following factors:

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is often defined as the level of enthusiasm, motivation, and attachment employees have to their jobs. According to the Queens School of Business and the Gallup Organization study, disengaged employees were 37% more likely to miss work, 49% more likely to get into accidents, and 60% more likely to make mistakes. On the other hand, a company with an engaged culture has a 30% higher level of customer satisfaction. That's right - their sentiments about the job translates to the quality of their work. 

Productivity

A study by the University of Warwick found that happy workers produced 12 percent more output, whereas unhappy workers produced 10 percent less. This ties into employee engagement, which another Gallup study reveals. According to research, companies with highly engaged employees generate 21% more profit and have a 17% higher productivity rate than those that don't. High engagement can lead to a more productive, more intelligent workforce, ensuring a more satisfied client base. 

Employee Turnover

Poor company culture is likely to disengage employees, who may choose to move on to another company. An alarming 38% of employees consider leaving their current jobs when they feel left out or stuck in unwelcoming work environments. Moreover, about 65% of employees say that company culture is crucial in staying at their jobs. 

Recruitment efforts

Pay and benefits are important considerations when looking for a job. Still, surprisingly 32% of job seekers would consider a lower-paying position so long as the role and company's culture are a match for their goals. So when hiring a top talent that can support your business goals, excellent workplace culture is the perfect bait.

What defines a great and healthy corporate culture? 

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The goal of improving your company culture is to build a conducive work environment. If you are curious about what that looks like, here are a few characteristics to keep in mind.

  • Successful collaboration. If your company has people working together with shared values and goals, they perform better and work harmoniously. Teamwork is important to 75% of employees, and you will see it in brainstorming efforts and accomplishments.

  • Practical perks. When choosing perks, make sure you go for ones that benefit the majority of the staff. It's a way to show your employees you care. At the start of COVID-19, some companies offered employees paid access to meditation apps to help reduce anxiety while in lockdown.

  • Rewards. A good deed never goes unnoticed in a healthy corporate culture. This means you don't only acknowledge top performers who bring the company a lot of value--but you give credit to simple achievements, as well. So at your next meeting, don't forget to give a shout-out to someone celebrating his or her work anniversary.

  • Positive feedback. Positive feedback encourages your staff to do better. 69% of employees say they would work harder if they were appreciated for their hard work. The next time you see someone complete a task ahead of schedule, you might want to give that person a pat on the back.

  • Transparent communication. A strong culture should be an open culture. Allowing your staff to share new ideas will help boost their self-esteem. Furthermore, management should keep employees informed since 70% of respondents in a survey stated that they are most engaged when senior leaders provide them with regular updates on the company's strategy.

  • Fun environment. Gone are the days of grey paint jobs and fluorescent lights; modern employees are looking for a relaxed and modern work environment. As more Gen Z and millennials join the workforce, employers must adopt new tools—and add a foosball table to the break room.

  • Trust. The best organizations trust their people to do their jobs, allowing upper management to let down their guard. The majority of business leaders (55%) consider the lack of trust in the workplace to be their biggest threat. Micromanaging your employees eats away at your company's precious asset: your time. 

  • Flexibility. While not all companies (retail businesses, for example, have a fixed schedule) can afford to pull off flexi-time, you can find ways to make your employees' plans less rigid. Cutting down meeting time or reducing the number of meetings can help employees concentrate on their work better and have more time for things outside work. In a study, 44% of employees complain that ineffective meetings leave them not enough time to do the rest of their work.

Types of Corporate culture

Different types of organizational cultures exist. Each of them has pros and cons. You can strengthen yours by understanding which of the following categories yours falls under:

Team-first Corporate Culture

Team-first corporate cultures emphasize the importance of people and their ability to fit the workplace culture. This results in a more engagement-oriented approach. Managers are expected to provide meaningful feedback and host team outings or gatherings that can help nurture the team and make them more effective.

Elite Corporate Culture

As the name implies, companies with an elite organizational culture only seek out top talents. The company looks for leaders and innovators that can lead the way to success, not just do what's expected of them—they have to go beyond that. Therefore, expertise is a critical factor when hiring. 

Horizontal Corporate Culture

It's called horizontal corporate culture because there is no hierarchy in this type of organization. The level of responsibility is one straight line. Everyone has the right to pitch in new ideas. This type of corporate culture is often seen in start-ups. There’s a need to onboard the right candidate because everyone is expected to pull their weight - and that comes with expected risks.

Conventional Corporate Culture

Conventional corporate culture is the hierarchy culture. Picture the workplace where your parents worked. We're talking strict guidelines, specific dress codes, and so on. The good news is that companies with this type of corporate culture have relaxed a bit over time. They are now more innovation-dependent and casual—but the clearly defined hierarchies remain. It's still the CEO who makes major decisions.

Progressive Corporate Culture

A progressive corporate culture may be brought about by mergers and acquisitions as well as market changes. Uncertainty is its defining characteristic. However, high risk often comes with high rewards. Smart and competent employees will be able to adapt quickly during the transition period and hopefully influence their peers to follow suit.

How can a start-up CEO build a thriving corporate culture? 

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Curious how you can improve your current culture as a start-up? Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Create a foundation. After identifying your type of corporate culture, you need to make sure you mention how it's like during interviews. Make time to explain your company's mission. It’s also the best time to get to know how your candidates behave both on and off the job.

  • Practice what you preach. Find out how you can strengthen your corporate culture. Create engaging activities for people to participate in, like team building or fun quiz nights on Friday. And if something urgent comes up, you can still make work-related activities fun. Why not give brainstorming lunches a shot?

  • Pay attention to details. You need to give your employees a sense of value. Reward their loyalty and good work. Make it a point to offer generous compensation when it's due. Encourage them to take action by being open to their ideas all the time. Lastly, keep your eyes peeled on how your employees are. If you see them struggling to finish a task, you can provide assistance and help meet their deadlines.

  • Don't resist change. Your company's mission statement should remain clear, but flexible. As you grow, more and more people will become a part of the team, so be more open to change. It’s fine so long as you don't lose sight of the bigger picture.

Examples of successful companies and their corporate cultures

The healthy culture amongst these companies contributes to their stability, good performance, and lack of workplace negativity. Here are three company culture examples that will inspire you:

Google

Known for its quirky corporate culture, the internet titan also provides a plethora of benefits that most employees dream about. Their corporate culture is a blend of elite and team-first. This gives their employees a greater sense of belonging to the company, boosting their performance.

GE

Once known for rigid management, GE now recognizes the necessity of adaptability to success. As a result, they are currently adopting innovation, even going as far as launching a new performance management mobile app called PD@GE for employees to set short-term goals. 

Shopify

Looking for an example of modern company culture? Shopify, one of the world's leading online store builders, has a robust core value system and a great corporate culture. They even have an internal praise tool called UNICORN to give kudos (and cash incentives) for any good deed, big or small.

Unfortunately, not all companies can create a tool that can help them build a positive corporate culture in a snap of their fingers—but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have one. QVALON's management software makes a good starting point for your small business or start-up. It comes with collaboration and task management tools that allow you to monitor performance, provide feedback, and even give praises.