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Corporate Culture Examples: Types and Ways To Improve It
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Employee Experience

4 Corporate Culture Examples + 20 Ways to Improve

Three Quick Takeaways

  • Corporate culture is integrated into an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to conducting business.
  • There are four known types of corporate culture.
  • Successful organizations tie their missions and visions with operational and management philosophies to engage their employees.

We spend more time with our work family than with our families at home. That’s why HR leaders care so much about company culture. They know culture is more than snacks in breakrooms, motivational posters, ping pong tables. But what exactly is corporate culture? 

Corporate culture is created when the people in an organization share the same values, ethics, attitudes, standards and beliefs and those principles are integrated into an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to conducting business. As you consider what it takes to build a positive company culture, take a few notes from these successful real-life corporate culture examples.

Four Types of Corporate Culture

While there are several definitions of corporate culture or organizational culture, Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn from the University of Michigan have defined four of the most popular types. 

  1. Clan Culture 
    In this example of corporate culture, belonging is driven by a sense of mission, loyalty, and collaboration within a close-knit organization, such as family businesses, start-ups, and other small businesses and groups. Focus is placed inward and emphasizes collaboration, communication, and interpersonal relationships. Since this culture does not foster robust and decisive leadership, employees can be discouraged from speaking up against a group.
  2. Adhocracy (aka “Experimental”) Culture
    Adhocracy Culture – Rapid iteration, outward focus, and an eye towards the future define this type of culture. Employees are undaunted by the prospect of failure and integrate innovation and experimentation into everyday work, even when budgets might be tight. Tech companies are great examples of this environment.
  3. Market Culture
    Focused on success and driving employees to achieve, Market Cultures maintain constant pressure on results. With an emphasis on professional learning, development, and financial rewards, teams work together to meet targets, exceed expectations, and maximize profits. While employees and subordinates may be like-minded, the disadvantage of this type of culture includes burnout and lack of morale from overwhelming pressure for individual success.
  4. Hierarchical/Seniority-Based Culture
    Hierarchy culture – This type of culture stems from the traditional, formal corporate structure. It is rooted in a chain of command. While the style is familiar, coordinated, and organized, it can inhibit change and merit-based advancement.

So, what did we learn? Well, for starters, there’s no one-size-fits-all culture. What works for a tiny, agile start-up might not work for a family-owned manufacturing business with 500 employees. To see what company culture looks like in the real world, look at companies that consistently win recognition for being the “best places to work.”

What “Best Places to Work” Have in Common

“Best Places to Work” awards celebrate employers with the most engaged and collaborative workforces.

  • Hyatt Hotels Corporation
    • Leaders continually listen, communicate, show support and empathy, and are “not shy about being vulnerable in front of employees.”
    • Their “Ad Hoc” Culture allowed the company to experiment and smoothly embrace new ideas, behaviors, and practices during the pandemic.
  • Wegman’s Food Markets, Inc.
    • Management and employees go the “extra mile” to help customers and communities.
    • As a Clan Culture, Wegmans rarely fires employees and has a 17% attrition rate for all employees, both part-time and hourly (while the industry average is approximately 66 percent).
  • Rocket Companies, Inc.
    • The company emphasizes team building, collaboration, and focusing on longer-term strategies and provides its employees with the tools, training, and technologies they need to do their best work.
    • Even with 98% of their 20,000 employees working remotely during the pandemic, employees still feel included and fully supported. 
  • Target Corporation
    • People-first, socially-conscious programs encourage employees to care for each other, as well as their customers and communities.
    • Valuing mentorship and coaching, Target provides employees with rich experiences, constant feedback, and personal and professional growth opportunities. 
  • Bento Technologies, Inc.
    • The company focuses on the people and relationships required to build great technology.
    • Company data is available to all employees who need it, creating transparency and building goodwill.

These and other companies have found success by tying their missions and visions with operational and management philosophies that permeate the entire organization and engage their employees.

Why Corporate Culture Matters

According to a 2020 report by SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, toxic workplaces cost US businesses billions. In their survey, nearly half of the employees responded that they had thought about leaving their current employer because of company culture issues. Almost one in five respondents left a job for precisely that reason within the last five years.

Positive workplaces with healthy corporate cultures benefit from: 

  • Improved financial, employee, and project performance
  • Increased customer and employee satisfaction
  • Better reputations and ability to attract and retain employees
  • Differentiation in the marketplace
  • Enhanced communication and employee engagement
  • Less turnover and absenteeism
  • Higher morale and motivation
  • Lasting change
  • Improved sense of work-life balance

What Forms Corporate Culture

According to a recent study, Glassdoor found that companies form great cultures when a clear mission connects employees’ daily work with positive culture change and a broader social purpose. High-quality, competent senior leaders who inspire and provide employees with clearly defined pathways for career advancement make job roles a journey rather than a dead-end.

20 Ways to Improve Corporate Culture

  • Stay true to core values
  • Embrace the organizational or project mission
  • Keep a pulse on how employees feel about their job and the company and its culture
  • Test and experiment ways to build a strong corporate culture
  • Value feedback
  • Communicate purpose and passion
  • Be transparent and vulnerable
  • Nurture curiosity
  • Recognize actions and celebrate achievements
  • See failures not as costly mistakes but as opportunities to learn and grow
  • Embrace the company value that no effort goes to waste
  • Remember the impact of positive reinforcement
  • Encourage employees to support each other as individuals and groups
  • Inspire autonomy
  • Practice flexibility
  • Embrace change
  • Be a role model for kindness and compassion, individually and organizationally
  • Encourage mentorships at all levels of the organization, as well as across departments and work specialties
  • Value and appreciate employees
  • Foster compassion

How Paycor can help?

Paycor Pulse helps HR leaders better understand the employee experience with short, frequent employee surveys that are easy to complete and even easier to measure and analyze. By going beyond the annual engagement surveys, leaders can quickly acknowledge any corporate culture issue and make efforts to amend them immediately.