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Types of Workplace Culture

Ideally, all businesses should offer a culture in the workplace that reflects the company’s mission and values. While types of culture at the workplace may differ, they should always provide your employees the ability to feel appreciated and heard.

Understand what workplace culture is, how to help your employees experience positive workplace cultures, why types of culture in an organization make a difference and how defining types of workplace culture can add up to success for your business. 

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What is workplace culture?

Company culture is how employees and business leaders communicate, interact, express values and make decisions. It includes ways employees share ideas and make their voices heard. It is often seen through:

  • Company values
  • Business ethics
  • Corporate policies
  • Employee goals and expectations
  • Communication styles
  • Employee advancement opportunities and incentives
  • Company mission statement and goals
  • Community engagement 
  • Safety policies and procedures

Workplace culture can also be referred to as company culture, business culture, organizational culture and workplace environment.

Related: What Is Company Culture? 

Creating a positive workplace culture

Your ability to clearly define your company’s culture to create a positive workplace culture will add up to better employee morale, higher productivity and overall profitability. 

To create a positive workplace culture that will lead to higher employee retention rates and job satisfaction, it’s important to understand the basics of positive workplace cultures in four areas:

  1. Leadership: Creating a corporate culture where employees not only feel heard but also valued is important for a positive work experience. As a business leader, consider ways you can ask for employee input to encourage the exchange of ideas, open communication and the cultivation of shared values. 
  2. Connection: Employees who feel connected to the company’s products and services are more likely to invest in their work. Business leaders can help create a more positive workplace by soliciting employee feedback and the ability to make decisions when possible. 
  3. Satisfaction: Positive workplace and job candidate experiences occur more frequently when employees feel their voices are heard. Making it a regular policy to check in with employees on challenges and successes and even celebrating achievements is a good way to keep satisfaction rates up. 
  4. Teamwork: People who feel valued and like they’re part of a team are more inclined to help one another and share common goals. Through team groupings, you can help your new and valued employees feel welcome and become more invested in not only each other but their work. 

Why defining types of culture in an organization is important

To best create a positive workplace, it’s important to first understand where your company culture is currently and where you can make changes. This is vital when making your company a place people want to work hard for. 

To identify your company’s workplace culture, take a look at the following:

  • Mission statement: Look at your company’s mission statement to be sure your business plan values reflect those carried out in day-to-day tasks. If you find areas where your mission values and daily operations don’t align, consider making appropriate changes. 
  • Employee interactions and participation: Take an honest look at your employees’ interaction with supervisors and peers and decide if your company is creating a team atmosphere that aligns with your values. Something as simple as adding weekly team lunches or optional social events could help build relationships that make working for your company more enjoyable.
  • Community involvement and engagement: Happy employees often identify with the goods and services they distribute. Including the community in your business plans and asking employees for ways they’d like to contribute can be a good way to improve workplace culture while keeping employees motivated.
  • Company goals: Take a closer look at your company’s goals and identify how those goals contribute to workplace culture and morale. For example, if one of your goals is to increase productivity, you might consider incentive plans to get employees on board. 
  • Business products and services/identity: Consider reviewing how your employees identify themselves and your business. A simple poll asking employees to describe your business goals, mission, statement and product might tell you a lot about your workplace culture from an employee’s point of view. 

To get an even better handle on your company culture, learn about the types of cultures in organizations and decide if your company’s culture matches your intended values.

There are four types of culture in an organization, and although your company might not fall strictly into one or the other, the ability to more closely identify your company’s type could help you improve employee retention, teamwork, productivity and morale. 

Four types of culture in an organization

1. Clan culture

Many companies, especially small businesses, pride themselves on a clan culture model. For employees in clan culture workplaces, coworkers are considered friends and even family. Employees of clan culture companies often socialize together, are great team players, are invested in the greater good and check in on one another professionally and personally. 

With trust and bonds high in clan culture workplaces, most employees work in small teams or on their own with little supervision. They are clear about expectations and can generally produce satisfactory results with little outside help after proper training. 

2. Adhocracy culture

Adhocracy culture, or the ability to adapt business culture quickly, is a term based on the value of “ad hoc” thinking. Companies with adhocracy culture value innovation and quick thinking and take pride in their problem-solving abilities. 

Employees who work in an adhocracy culture generally enjoy taking risks, working individually and multitasking. Workplace culture centers around finding faster and more productive ways of completing tasks, and employees are often left to work with autonomy. 

3. Market culture

Market culture is based on the values of customer satisfaction, high productivity and profitability. These businesses are driven by what is happening outside the company rather than in it, including factors like industry trends and consumer habits. 

Instead of emphasizing employee satisfaction and happiness, companies with a market culture have straightforward expectations and goals for staff. Employees who enjoy structure and working with clear formulas and productivity guidelines do best in market culture workplaces. 

4. Hierarchy culture

Stability, authority and accountability are key values in a hierarchy culture workplace. Businesses with a hierarchy culture model have clear expectations for employees, many layers of management and transparent structures for oversight. 

Like in market culture workplaces, employees who enjoy structure and clear guidelines tend to do best in hierarchy cultures. While there is little room for innovation in typical hierarchical culture companies, incentives often come by way of advancement.

FAQs about workplace culture

What are some other ways I can access and improve my company’s organizational culture?

  • Watch how employees interact with each other and supervisors and consider how different leaders lead their teams. Make decisions based on which teams and leaders are most effective and appear to have the happiest employees. 
  • Rewrite job descriptions with employee input on areas such as expectations, incentives and responsibilities. 
  • After identifying the type of workplace culture in your organization, determine if that type of culture matches your company’s values and goals. If not, consider ways you can change your company culture by adding perks like wellness programs, incentives, paid time off, or social events that will improve your workplace environment. 

Will the effort to review workplace culture pay off?

You might be surprised how much more productive your employees will be in a happier workplace. Even if you have a positive company culture now, research shows that companies that regularly review employee needs and satisfaction are more successful overall. 

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