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6 Characteristics of Corporate Culture to Better Your Company

May 24, 2019

Have you ever seen the 1999 cult classic movie Office Space?

With memorable moments like Hawaiian Shirt Day, Friday Firings, murdering a printer, and payroll glitches, Office Space captured a whole generation’s perspective on work life and corporate culture.

While corporate culture has changed quite a bit from its portrayal in Office Space, there are a number of ways that it hasn’t. How can you make sure that the corporate culture in your own organization is up to par with employer branding standards? Let’s dive in.

If you’re still a bit confused, that’s ok. Keep reading to find out exactly what corporate culture is, and the six characteristics to make corporate culture successful.

What is corporate culture?

Corporate culture is the holistic combination of your organization’s values, vision, and mission. It encompasses the day-to-day communication and operational goals that create the organizational atmosphere and the way people work. Corporate culture is a key part of your employer brand.

It’s difficult to define and even more difficult to get right. Perks like stocked kitchens, happy hours, and ping-pong tables may help with recruitment marketing, but don’t go very far in creating a sustainable corporate culture.

Six characteristics of successful corporate culture

There are six key characteristics of corporate culture according to the Harvard Business Review. If your corporate culture isn’t quite where it needs to be, you can reevaluate any of these characteristics and make changes as necessary.

characteristics of corporate culture

1. Vision

What is your purpose as an organization? Think beyond metrics and revenue. Identify why your organization even exists. Your vision should drive every decision that employees and management make. Good vision statements create buy-in at all levels of your organization. Great vision statements create buy-in for external stakeholders and customers. Your vision statement (similar to a mission statement) describes this purpose to all parties.

2. Values

If the vision is your organization’s purpose, values are its personality. Values set the guidelines on the behavior and attitudes needed to achieve the vision. Companies that have strong values permeating throughout their structure are generally better at achieving what they set out to do. Here at G2, our values are Performance, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Authenticity, and Kindness which all combine to help set our PEAK culture.

TIP: Take a look at this core values list of 222 ideas to inspire you to identify your values.

3. Practices

Your vision and values won’t get you anywhere unless your organization has the practices in place to back them up. Whatever your organization’s values are, they have to be reinforced by the policies and principles of your day-to-day operations. “Practice what you preach” literally.

4. People

The culture of your organization cannot just exist on paper. It has to be built by the people who embrace the vision and values you’ve put forth and It all begins with who you recruit. Failing to bring in people who believe in your culture could lead to a hostile work environment. Take the time to have multiple people throughout your organization interact with candidates during the interview process. This allows your current employees to determine if the candidate fits in with the culture and for the candidate to see the culture firsthand.

See the Easiest-to-Use Employee Engagement Software →

5. Narrative

Every organization has a unique history and a unique story. Most people know that the first Apple computer was created in a garage. The power of a strong narrative should not be underestimated. Does your founder have an incredible backstory? Do you have a product that exists to solve a huge problem? This narrative should capture the essence of your organization and work to inspire your employees and stakeholders to contribute to the vision.

6. Place

Gone are the days of stuffy cubicles and gray call centers. The home you create for your organization is just as important to culture as any of the other factors we’ve mentioned. Think about how major tech companies cluster in Silicon Valley and financial firms cluster in New York. Certain cities have local cultures that may contribute or detract from the culture your organization is creating.

Didn’t you get the memo?

Creating a good corporate culture is paramount to your organization’s success. Putting all the pieces together requires you to think critically about what it is your company does and what succeeding means for you. A corporate culture doesn’t have to be boring.

Want to highlight your values even more for potential talent sourcing? Make sure your organization has an established diversity statement.  

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