Company culture is so much more than the physical and virtual four walls of your company. It's how employees work with customers, partners, and each other-determining what kind of place a business has on its hands.
Today, we’re sharing 8 strong company culture examples for you to take inspiration from while you build your own.
At its core, company culture is how things actually get done in your workplace. It refers to the collection of shared characteristics that make your business unique, like specific values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all employees. It's the sum of your formal and informal systems and behaviors and values, all of which create an experience for your employees and customers.
8 examples of the best company cultures
An organization's culture is more than its stated values, vision, and mission. It's about the company's fabric—collective beliefs, ethics, and behaviors. That’s why it’s more about creating a feeling than specific programs or strategies put into place. This is influenced by how an organization is led and is hugely influential in the company's success.
Now it’s time to look at some inspiring real-life workplace cultures in action: what makes up their culture, how they nurture it, and why this is important to them.
Performance-driven market culture
A culture that drives high performance aims to beat out the competition. An organization may place emphasis on being customer-focused, or use a product-led growth strategy.
Known for its stellar customer service, Tony Hsieh famously established how “Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes”.
Employees there are encouraged and empowered to help customers in any personalized method they see fit, rather than imposing restrictive scripts and procedures. This type of innovative culture helps the company come up with creative solutions quickly.
Psychological safety is a great outcome of an organizational culture that demonstrates regular, peer-to-peer feedback.
Atlassian uses regular feedback to build an award-winning culture. A core Atlassian value is “play as a team.” This is evident in everything the company does, from their squad approach to software development to making sure that employees are thriving in a collaborative and transparent environment.
Fast-paced horizontal cultures
Flat organizational structures in the workplace have as few management levels as possible. This helps with easier decision making and as a higher sense of responsibility that employees enjoy.
Clio, the leader in legal practice management software, has a mission to transform the practice of law—for good.
To achieve this goal, the company has seven core values that were created with employee input. Sasha Perrin, their Director of Content and Communications, told us:
“We have seven values that prioritize goals and guide execution on projects. They were created with contributions from employees at all levels. By creating our company values together, we all have a greater investment in owning and upholding them. These values create alignment and help us all work together, ultimately aiding in employee satisfaction.”
Clio is also a big believer in autonomy. Employees are encouraged to see themselves as a leader and look for ways they can personally impact the business.
“Everyone who works at Clio is encouraged to take on a founder's mentality and think about how they can contribute ideas and improvements to the company. Managers are also trained to cultivate new ideas to help their team members succeed.”
As one of the best places to work in New York City, this startup is regularly voted as one with a strong sense of employee engagement. The way they describe their culture is “flat, open and creative”, where there are very few levels of management in between staff and leaders.
With this type of culture, employees feel that their voices are heard, empowering and improving morale.
Progressive people-first culture
Human-centric cultures normally boast a high degree of flexibility for its employees. Not only do they emphasize wellbeing, but they also tend to invest extensively in succession planning, development and growth.
Thinkific believes in building a team that's cared for and well-rested. They believe that things like a generous vacation package aren't 'perks', but in fact how employees should always be supported at work.
Having an education platform offering means that learning isn’t just their core business, but ingrained in their team’s cultural DNA. Whether it's sharing books and articles, encouraging cross-team collaboration or developing internal leadership skills, Thinkific constantly pushes their employees to seek growth and improvement from each other.
“Company culture isn't just a checkbox that once met can be forgotten about. It's something that is cultured and changes,” shared Karri Bishop, Marketing Communications Manager at TechnologyAdvice.
Within their company, hiring for cultural fit is always top of mind. The hiring team seeks candidates that are compatible with their values and culture, not just their skillset.
“Finding a person that fits culturally is just as important as finding someone who has the skill sets needed,” said Karri. “Our HR team does a great job of finding people who are a good match for the team and for our overall culture.”
“A positive, dynamic company culture can do great things for productivity and company success.”
Purpose, value-driven culture
Any business building a community-focused culture is likely to rally its employees behind a specific cause: be it social rights, environment and sustainability, or non-profit philanthropy.
The values inside your business should mirror those projected outside your business. This helps to keep your people, product, and company on track. World-renowned design and manufacturing company, Arc’teryx has a great culture that’s as purposeful as their product. Geoff Watts, Senior Manager, People & Culture, said:
“We're very clear on who we are and what we stand for. We know that Arc’teryx is most successful when our people are willing and able to take a stand for operating a certain way.”
There’s an emphasis on meticulous craftsmanship at Arc’teryx; an understanding that what they create has to be equally impressive for those inside and outside the company.
“Our culture is rooted in our 28 year history of making the best possible product that we’re both proud of, and want to use ourselves in our own adventures.
“We seek out people that share our values, and they in turn are the ones that keep our culture alive.”
“Culture can drive incredible business results and create a working environment where people have fun and are proud of what they do.”
8. Ben & Jerry’s
A stellar example of corporate activism, Ben & Jerry’s led the charge in progressive support for a wide array of causes, including marriage equality and Black Lives Matter. The global brand commands deep respect for individuals in and outside the company, supporting the communities of which they are a part.
While highly specialized roles may be attractive, traditional hierarchical cultures tend to follow tight procedures that are known to stifle creativity. In these workplace environments, securing a promotion often comes down to measuring tenure, neglecting things like contribution, aptitude and personal growth.
Build your ideal company culture
Netflix describes its culture as "what gives us the best chance of continuous success for many generations of technology and people".
Choosing the right culture fit or “defining” it officially may be daunting. But there are many creative ways to cultivate corporate culture, including improving cross-functional team communication and increasing the collective sense of belonging at work.
Make sure you’re putting effort into maintaining engagement, enablement, and celebration across your organization. These are elements that are key for a healthy culture and are critical to employee success.
The bottom line is asking your employees about their ideal company culture so you can head towards that path.
Hopefully, these company culture examples highlight the fact that culture isn’t any particular thing, like a mission statement or your official dress code. It’s really how everyone exists at your company.
What are some great culture examples that we might have missed out? Drop us a comment below to share your favourites.
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