Find your work people. Download our app.

Career Development Tips

Company Culture: Definition and Identifiers

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated Jun 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What is company culture?Characteristics of a strong corporate cultureBenefits of good company cultureHow to identify a company culture

Guide Overview

An overview of company culture

A company's culture, which comes from the way employers and employees carry out their daily activities, can have a big impact on performance. Whether you're a leader or a follower, identifying the company culture can help you determine if it suits you, discover areas for improvement if it's unsuitable, and decide whether to work for a company or look elsewhere. Consequently, learning about this key workplace feature provides essential information that can help your career. Discover what you need to know about company culture.

Discover companies hiring by location, job title, and industry

What is company culture?

A company’s culture consists of the values that drive the way management and employees interact with one another, shape staff behavior, influence how it feels to work in the company, and impact the reputation it builds with customers, other businesses, and the public. In other words, it’s your company’s personality. Usually, the characteristics of management have the biggest influence on a company’s culture. Due to the important impacts of this workplace condition, it’s best to figure out if an organization has a culture that suits you before deciding to work there.

Company culture is also called organizational culture, workplace culture, and corporate culture. It’s a major component of the work environment, which refers to all the different conditions that affect operations. In relation to the culture of a particular company, it can be difficult to determine the management values that comprise it, which may differ from how it’s detailed in publicity materials. However, you can determine the company culture by identifying the following operational items of an enterprise:

  • Dress code: A company’s dress code reflects its culture. For example, an organization that insists on formal clothing for all its workers is likely to have a rigidly hierarchical structure, provide less employee freedom, have a top-down leadership strategy, and use relatively static processes. In contrast, a company with a business casual dress code is likely to have a more democratic structure, more freedom for its workers, and more dynamic processes.
  • Office setup: The office setup of a company indicates its culture. This setup includes the workspaces, the on-site and remote workers that comprise the workforce, the computer technologies in use, the rules and regulations, the communication tools, and the building facilities. For instance, a company that hires both office-based and home-based workers is more likely to have flexible processes, advanced computing technologies, independent workers, and inclusive leadership than a company that hires only on-site employees.
  • Business hours: Companies can be operational during the traditional 9-to-5 period, employ workers 24/7, or offer flexible hours, which allows its workers to choose their own hours to meet fixed deadlines for job duties. The option a company chooses can tell you about its culture. For example, a company that values innovation is likelier to provide flex time for its staff when compared with another that prefers conformity.
  • Customer satisfaction: While all companies actively seek to achieve customer satisfaction, it’s those with the strongest cultures that develop and maintain large bases of satisfied clients. This is because the culture affects how a company interacts with its customers. Consequently, a culture that values its employees and empowers them to exceed client expectations is likely to have a growing base of loyal consumers.
  • Employee satisfaction and motivation: As an organization’s culture drives the behavior of managers and subordinates, it significantly affects employee satisfaction and motivation. For example, a firm in which the majority of workers are satisfied and motivated is likely to have a healthy culture that makes it a great place to work. Alternatively, a firm in which the majority of employees are unsatisfied and demotivated is likely to have an unhealthy workplace culture.
  • Internal communication: How a company handles its internal communication can be a key indicator of its workplace culture. For example, an employer who values innovation, employees, and adaptability will usually have a great structure for communication within the organization that encourages dialogue between departments, positions, and experience levels.
  • Hiring decisions: As a company’s culture influences staff behavior, it also shapes the decisions the hiring manager makes during the recruitment process. For instance, an organization that values the happiness of its employees is more likely to hire managers with team-focused leadership styles such as democratic or situational leaders instead of autocratic ones.
  • Employee benefits: Typically, businesses with strong workplace cultures are more likely to offer substantial, relevant benefits to its workers than those with weak cultures. This is due to the fact that a principle of protecting the interests or stakes of employees is at the core of any superior organizational culture. Consequently, the average benefits offered by employers are indicators of their corporate culture.

Learn more: Frequently Asked Questions About Resumes

Characteristics of a strong corporate culture

While a culture can be found in any organization, a high-performance one has several identifiers, such as:

  • It values its employees and offers great compensation to high performers.
  • It invests in team building.
  • It provides substantial benefits to all workers.
  • It considers workers during the decision-making process.
  • It uses effective problem-solving skills to deal with issues.
  • It develops loyal customers.
  • It’s resilient to changes in other elements of the workplace environment.
  • It creates a pleasant place to work with cohesive teams and supportive bosses.
  • There is rapport between managers and subordinates.
  • There are reliable HR processes for dealing with interpersonal conflicts.
  • The organization evaluates and modifies its policies and processes according to employee preferences and needs.
  • The employer works to create and maintain a healthy culture.
  • The organization actively promotes the corporate culture to its workers.
  • Employees have a high level of engagement.
  • Company productivity is high.

Learn more: How to Ask for a Raise

Benefits of good company culture

You can enjoy several benefits by working for an organization with a strong company culture, such as:

  • Work for a boss who values you. The company culture impacts how management interacts with subordinates. Consequently, a key benefit of working in a robust culture is that you will work for supervisors who value your contributions and adapt their leadership style to suit your characteristics.
  • Work in a cohesive workforce. You can enjoy a greater level of cohesiveness with your coworkers when you work for a company with a strong culture.
  • Enjoy effective communication practices. You can enjoy tried-and-true communication methods to speak to co-workers and bosses in a firm with a healthy organizational culture.
  • Enjoy great benefits and perks. In successful corporate cultures, workers enjoy stellar benefits and perks. For example, comprehensive health care, severance pay, free meals, financial bonuses, or internal social events can be a part of a strong culture.
  • Grow more engaged. When working in a corporate culture that nurtures you, you’re likely to become a more engaged employee, which involves being more satisfied, motivated, and committed at work. As employee engagement results in increased productivity, you can also benefit from becoming more successful and advancing in your career.
  • Develop loyal customers and enjoy organizational success. As an effective workplace culture results in engaged employees who improve their customer service, you can also benefit from being a part of a successful organization with a strong customer base.
  • Be rewarded for your efforts. Working for an employer who has fostered a successful corporate culture enables you to enjoy the recognition your hard work deserves.

Learn more: Strategies for Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

How to identify a company culture

To identify a company culture, you can use the following steps:

  • Discover what the company says about its culture. Most companies will articulate what their culture is. You can find this information in the About Us pages of their corporate websites. Researching this information will help you to understand what the company values in relation to its brand, employees, management, community, and environment.
  • Discover what employees say about the culture. The acid test for the company culture is what its workers say about it, for they tend to be more impacted by it than other stakeholders such as investors and customers. Check for employee testimonials and reviews on the company website and reputed business rating platforms. Next, leverage your social and professional networks to find people who know what working in the company is like.
  • Analyze the company’s features. Use the operational items and the identifiers of a strong culture discussed in the previous sections of this article to analyze the company culture.
  • Experience the culture for yourself. Before deciding to work for a company as a full-time employee, experience its culture by volunteering, completing an internship, or shadowing a worker. Make sure to get this experience in the department you want to work in so you’re exposed to the relevant cultural norms of the workplace that will apply to you.

Consequently, it makes sense to find a strong company culture you can grow with. When looking for a new job, use what you have learned in this article to select one that suits you.

Related Career Guides