What is workplace culture?
A company’s culture is made up of the values, interests, experiences, assumptions and beliefs shared by its employees. It influences how employees feel about work and how they perform.
You can infer a lot about a company’s culture by observing how employees communicate with each other, do their jobs and respond to new ideas. Even small details, like office decor, can say a lot about an organization’s culture.
The basics of workplace culture
Workplace cultures often form and evolve on their own, and sometimes, it can be difficult to understand what makes a culture. Here are some defining characteristics:
- Culture dictates actions. A company’s culture influences its priorities and operating norms. Culture is more than what’s said in the mission statement. It’s how the company carries that mission out
- Culture is learned. People quickly learn what’s considered “good.” When behaviors are rewarded, they’re repeated, and they eventually become part of a culture. A simple acknowledgment for good work from higher-ups can influence culture.
- People shape culture. Each person’s qualities and actions shape a work environment. For example, if most of your employees are outgoing, the culture is probably sociable and inviting. It’s especially important to keep this in mind during the hiring process by paying special attention to how candidates will fit in or improve your culture.
- Culture is a product of collaboration. Culture is the result of every member’s contribution. Therefore, expectations should be established and encouraged by executives and employees.
- A culture change requires commitment. While it’s more effective to build a purposeful and positive environment from the beginning, it is possible to reinvent a culture through discipline, persistence, consistency and patience.
Three fun ideas for a positive work culture
There are many proven and innovative strategies that foster a positive culture. These three fun ideas can be easily implemented at your company:
- Hold a lunch lotto. Everyone likes to feel lucky. Pull a name out of a lotto once a month and let that person choose the restaurant. Or, pull names from different departments and send a foursome to lunch. This can help people get to know one another and get a break from normal routines.
- Gather around a “campfire.”Leave the electronic devices behind. Sit cross-legged in a circle and spend some time together, free from distractions. Socialize, discuss projects and brainstorm creative solutions. Serve fun snacks and beverages to set the mood.
- Host a family dinner. A casual dinner at a team member’s home where significant others, families and dogs are welcome, can help foster relationships, deepen connections and create community.
Related: What Is Corporate Culture?
Final thoughts on workplace culture
Even with an established common culture, individuals, departments and teams have different perspectives and ways of interpreting a company’s values. Cultivate a culture that welcomes the opinions and ideas of your employees. A supportive, shared culture is the best way to foster a productive, positive work environment.
Workplace culture FAQs
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions on company culture:
What is culture?
Workplace culture can be described as a system of values that are shared by the employees within an organization. These values outline the priorities and practices of the company and define appropriate behaviors and attitudes. Whether conceptual or communicated, these values how people work, and in turn, how a company develops.
What is the connection between culture and employee engagement?
Culture influences an employee’s relationship with their employer and their engagement. Most people need to feel valued, heard and capable of making impact. If a culture is built around collaboration, innovation and welcoming of everyone’s ideas, employees are apt to feel more engaged.
How can you manage a company’s culture?
There are many strategies you can adopt to influence your company’s culture. Keep in mind that culture is a product of people, and the most direct way to influence the culture of a workplace is to develop initiatives that focus on employees.