Company culture: Definition, meaning and practical approach

Company culture is an integral part of any organisation, large or small. It’s an invisible, powerful element that guides the way businesses operate by shaping the behaviors, attitudes and values of employees.

What is company culture?

The norms, values, expectations and tactics that guide employee behavior towards customers as well as each other is company culture. The culture is fundamentally defined by the company’s leadership and is perpetuated through socialisation and training.

The importance of company culture

Company culture affects the way a company operates, both internally and externally. It can influence productivity, employee loyalty, company reputation and even its ability to attract and retain talent. A healthy company culture can motivate employees, promote teamwork, increase productivity and contribute to a positive workplace. On the other hand, an unhealthy company culture can result in low morale, high turnover and negatively impact the company’s bottom line.

Key theorists and their contributions

Edgar Schein: one of the most influential researchers in the field of corporate culture. Schein created a model that divides company culture into three levels: artifacts, values and basic assumptions. These levels are inextricably linked and contribute to creating and maintaining the culture of the organisation.

Geert Hofstede: known for his research into cultural dimensions across countries. He has applied these cultural principles to corporate culture and identified dimensions such as power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, and long- versus short-term orientations.

Charles Handy: has developed a model that categorises company culture into four types: role culture, person culture, task culture and power culture. Handy argues that different types of companies have different cultures and that it is important to understand these types of culture in order to lead effectively.

Understanding and actively working with company culture is essential for any business that wants to thrive in an increasingly competitive and globalised world.

Organisational culture shapes not only the way a company operates, but also how it is perceived from the outside. Culture can be the difference between success and failure, between high and low employee satisfaction, and between growth and stagnation. It’s up to leadership to create and maintain a culture that supports the company’s mission, vision and strategic goals.

How to work with company culture

Improving company culture can be a complex task, but the following are steps to help the process along the way:

Condition mapping:

To improve company culture, it’s necessary to understand the current culture first. This can be achieved through employee surveys, focus groups, one-on-one conversations, or by analysing behavioral patterns in the organisation.


Clarify and clearly communicate the organisation’s core values. These values should guide the organisation’s decisions, from strategic goals to daily actions.


Leadership plays a key role in shaping company culture. They must lead the way and demonstrate desired behaviors and attitudes. For example, if one of the organisation’s core values is openness, management should be open in their daily communication.

Training and learning:

Offer training and development programs that support the desired behaviors and your values. This can help employees develop the necessary skills and attitudes that support the organisation’s goals.

Feedback and recognition:

Implement regular feedback and recognition in the workplace to reinforce positive behavior. This can include larger efforts such as ambassador programs and regular performance reviews, as well as smaller behavioral changes in everyday life, such as a pat on the back at the coffee machine.


Work to foster an environment that supports collaboration. This can include creating opportunities for team building and fostering interpersonal relationships, as well as providing the necessary resources and tools for collaborative processes in the organisation.

Diversity and inclusion:

A culture that values diversity and inclusion can create a more welcoming and productive environment. Fostering an inclusive culture requires proactive efforts. Make your diversity and inclusion efforts visible by telling the ‘good stories’ throughout the organisation.

A positive company culture where employees feel valued, understood and involved can create a positive employee experience.

What is the impact of a good company culture?

Improving company culture is an ongoing process. It requires continuous monitoring and adjustment, and it requires commitment from everyone in the organisation, from management to employees. When we talk about company culture, we can’t ignore the fact that culture is the sum of the people who make it up and the experiences the company gives them. This is also known as the employee experience.

Company culture has a huge impact on the employee experience. Employee experience refers to the impressions, emotions, and interactions an employee has with their workplace during their employment. This experience can be influenced by many factors, including work environment, workload, management style, collegiality, training and development opportunities, and overall company culture.

A positive company culture where employees feel valued, understood and involved can create a positive employee experience. Employees in such cultures are likely to feel engaged, motivated and more loyal to the company.

On the other hand, a negative company culture where employees feel overlooked, undervalued or subjected to unreasonable demands can create a negative employee experience. This can result in low productivity, high turnover and can damage a company’s reputation.

To improve the employee experience, companies should pay attention to creating and maintaining a healthy and positive company culture. This can be achieved by ensuring that the company’s values and mission are clearly communicated and understood, that leadership is engaged and inspiring, and that there is a focus on employee wellbeing and development. Investing in the employee experience can lead to higher employee engagement, better performance and better customer experiences.

Also read: Why you should work on employee engagement

Ultimately, company culture and employee experience are closely linked. By creating a positive company culture, companies can strengthen the employee experience, which can lead to more satisfied employees and better business results.

Support your company culture with digital tools

Digital communication platforms can be highly effective tools to strengthen company culture and improve the employee experience in a systematic and resource-saving way.

How can digital tools affect the companu culture?

Here are 6 ways

01. Improve communication
Digital tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Drive and social knowledge platforms like Academy can improve communication within the company by making it more immediate and efficient. These platforms allow for easier collaboration and can strengthen a sense of unity, which contributes to a positive company culture.

02. Encourage feedback:
Digital platforms can be used to collect feedback from employees, whether it’s through informal chat messages, email surveys, or more structured feedback tools. This kind of transparent and continuous feedback can help create a culture of openness and development.

03. Make training and development visible:
E-learning platforms can make it easier to provide training and development opportunities to employees wherever they are. Investing in employee development can contribute to a culture of learning and growth and help with employee retention.

04. Focus on recognition and appreciation:
Social media-like platforms with elements of gamification can be used to highlight recognition and celebrate successes. Recognising employee achievements can create a culture where effort and results are valued.

05. Flexible working:
Digital communication platforms can make it easier for employees to work from different locations and at different times, which can contribute to a culture of trust and autonomy. It can also save resources for managers who can monitor and communicate with their employees at any time via the platform.

06. Maintaining culture in distributed workplaces:
In professional sectors where staggered schedules and distributed workplaces dominate, and in an era of increased remote working for office workers, digital communication platforms can help maintain and even strengthen company culture. The platform creates virtual spaces for social interaction and a sense of community, even across vast geographical distances.

When used correctly, digital communication platforms can be powerful tools to strengthen company culture, improve the employee experience and ultimately increase business efficiency and productivity.

It’s important to remember that implementing digital communication platforms must be done in a way that respects employees’ right to disconnect and ensures good digital hygiene. Overload and the always-on culture can lead to stress and burnout. Balance is key.

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