Everything You Need to Know About Workplace Culture

workplace culture

Everything You Need to Know About Workplace Culture

What Is Workplace Culture?

You have probably heard of organizational culture in different forums, but have little information to what it means or entails. When attending an interview, the interviewer may ask about your values and beliefs to see whether they are similar to the ones held by the organization. Prospective employees need to be an excellent cultural fit. Culture represents a powerful element that shapes your work relationships, enjoyment and processes. It guides, inspires and motivates you to do better and be better. You can only view culture through physical manifestations at your place of work.

Workplace Culture is the personality and character of a particular organization. It is also defined as the environment surrounding you at your workplace all the time. It is what makes an organization different from another. It consists of beliefs, underlying assumptions, traditions, values,
behaviors, interactions, and attitudes shared by a group of individuals. Culture is what happens when the group arrives at a set of typically unwritten and unspoken rules for working together. It sets standards for how employees and managers interact with each other and the outside world. The outside world consists of clients, partners, and suppliers. Culture is represented by a group in the following manners: symbols, language, decision-making, and daily working practices. We will discuss them in detail later.

Key Characteristics of Culture at The Workplace

  • The employees’ personalities and experiences are responsible for creating the culture of an organization.
  • Culture change is difficult but inevitable. The process involves taking and giving by all the members of the group. No single person can create culture.
  • Culture needs to be frequently reinforced by communicating through proper channels.
  • The culture of a workplace may be strong or weak depending on whether most people in the group agree or disagree. Weak culture in an organization may result in subcultures.

There are no two similar organizations; each organization is unique in its own way. Culture changes and evolves. Shaping the culture of an organization is no doubt the most critical strategy for achieving success.

Why Is Positive Workplace Culture Important?

Workplace culture is vital as it either strengthens or undermines an organization and the set objectives. Without it, the organization is doomed to fail in accomplishing its mission.

  1. It attracts new talent – prospective job applicants usually perform a background check on an organization they plan to join. If the organization has a defined, positive, strong and well-communicated culture, chances of talented and qualified applicants entering the organization increase significantly.
  2. Improves performance – organizations with stronger cultures have the edge over their competitors regarding financial performance and general success. It also brings the best out of every team member.
  3. 3. It creates the brand image of the organization which makes it distinct from others.
  4. It enhances engagement and retention – employee engagement and retention is dependent on the work environment created by the workplace culture.
  5. It improves productivity at the workplace with employees focusing on their jobs instead of challenges the organization is facing. Being committed to the organization reduces turnover costs.
  6. Employees share their experiences which improves productivity, efficiency, and performance.
  7. Results in staff happiness and contentment – studies have proven that there is a strong correlation between a strong culture and employee happiness and peace. People will look forward to going to work rather than drag themselves to the workplace.
  8. Encourage co-workers to watch each other back – how an organization shapes up is employees will determine whether they will make each other’s work life difficult or endearing.
  9. It promotes healthy competition at the workplace which motivates them to perform better for appreciation and recognition from the superiors.

What Factors Affect Culture in The Workplace

Various things in the workplace that have a direct effect on the development of a workplace culture. They include:

  • Staff – the employees of an organization regarding their values, beliefs, personalities, behaviors, varied skills and experiences. How they interact with each other is also important in defining the culture.
  • Work surroundings – all the physical signs in an organization, have an effect that most people choose to ignore. They include artifacts and other objects placed on walls, desks and other common areas. Office and space allocation and office furniture also portray the company’s culture. Some businesses prefer open workspace while others go for cubicle environment. Choice of colors also makes a point about an organization’s culture.
  • Management – the structure of an organization in regards to management plays a vital role in the culture of the workplace. Management consists of the founder or proprietor, executives and other managerial staff. How the organization is managed regarding procedures, hierarchy, structure, systems, and objectives. The extent to which those in managerial positions empower the subordinates, give them support and interact with them and their consistency in doing these three things also plays a significant role.
  • Workplace Practices – these practices are related to processes like recruiting and selecting, rewards and recognition, work-life balance, training and development, promotions, and workplace traditions. Dress code is one of the most conspicuous manifestations of the culture of a workplace. A law firm may need you always to wear a tie while a tech company can go for a casual look.
  • Leadership – leadership affects culture in some ways. The way the superiors pass communication and interact with other employees, the message they put across, their ambitions, their expectations, what they celebrate and prioritize, how they make their decisions, the extent to which those below them can trust them, and the principles and insights they emphasize.
  • Work Guidelines and Philosophies – every organization has rules meant to be followed to achieve set goals. Work policies include a code of conduct, code of dressing, attendance, and planning. Work philosophies, on the other hand, include promotion and internal transfers, hiring procedure, compensation, and performance payment.
  • Communication – the way conversations take place in an organization, extent of transparency in decision making and type of information shared, the frequency of communication and interaction between employees and managers or leaders.
  • Organization Mission – lastly but not least, the values, vision and mission clarity and whether they reflect what the organization believes including its philosophies. How the organization inspires employees and stability of these values and how widely they are communicated also counts.

Things to Avoid When Forming a Workplace Culture

Do not develop an office culture without clearly defining it and what it is intended to be. Below is a list of things to avoid making this costly mistake:

  • Hiring employees who do not believe in the values and mission of the organization.
  • Copying workplace programs and policies from competitor organizations.
  • Lack of clear communication defining the vision, mission, and set of values that reflect the image of the company.
  • Practicing negative management styles that do not encourage employee engagement and retention.
  • Not evaluating day-to-day activities of leaders and managers and their influence on culture formation.
  • Operating in lackluster work environments.


Building a positive organizational culture is highly beneficial as it helps the organizations to thrive in challenging times. Every organization has to re-evaluate their culture to ensure that they are well defined and also get rid of factors that erode the company’s culture. They should evaluate where the culture is currently and what they want in the future using surveys and other assessment tools. Assessment may also be in the form of interviews, examination, observation, and discussions. Achieving short and long-term goals hugely depend on the culture of the organization. Gauging your culture will expose the workplace climate and reveal the gaps that need to be filled to attain your company’s objectives.

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