Corporate Culture: What Is It and Why Do We Care So Much About It?

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Corporate culture. The buzzword has risen to the top of the reading lists for companies and their human resource departments. Suddenly management is obsessed with what it is, why it is important, how to define it, and how to change it. It turns out the first three questions are easy to answer. The last one, not so much.

What is corporate culture?

Corporate or company culture what is ultimately defined by a company’s values, processes, goals, assumptions, and attitudes. It’s like a company’s fingerprint; it is unique, leaves a mark on everything it touches, and is nearly impossible to change without drastic measures.

Why is corporate culture important?

Every business is affected by its corporate culture, from the way it produces and performs to the talent it attracts and rejects (or is rejected by). A company’s culture influences how it communicates within its organization as well as with the outside world, usually with its own vocabulary, buzz words, and touch points. It defines marketing practices, corporate goals, and guidelines for everything from employee behavior to environmental responsibility.

In other words, a company’s culture is its personality. It doesn’t necessarily define what a company’s purpose is, but rather how a company approaches that purpose.

What are specific ways a company defines its culture?

Companies each take different approaches when it comes to creating their products or delivering their services. Outside of a company’s structure (whether or not it operates as a hierarchy, meritocracy, holacracy, etc.), a company gives clues to its culture in a myriad of ways. For example, its organizational personality can be defined by:

  • How it handles attendance and vacation days
  • How it rewards and challenges performance
  • How much control it gives employees over their work and workload
  • The tone of its corporate voice
  • The length of its employee manual
  • How it fosters new programs

These are a few obvious ways, and ones often controlled by management. Some of the less obvious, but just as observable ways to notice a company’s culture are:

  • How much employees are tied to work technology
  • The noise level of the break room during lunch
  • How offices and cubicles are arranged and decorated
  • How people are dressed
  • How much time and effort is spent on engaging and growing a corporate community

Can corporate culture change?

The answer to this is just as much yes as it is no. Yes, in the sense that anything is possible with enough time, money, support, and motivation. No, in the sense that there isn’t always enough time, money, support, and motivation.

Think of your culture as a person–the whole thing, complete with quirks, backstory, drivers, and baggage. Could you change a few things about yourself? Sure, with time and proper incentives. Could you change everything about yourself? Probably not. The question many companies should be asking themselves isn’t how to change their corporate cultures, but why they should. If the answer to the “Why” question is strong enough—say productivity is at an all-time low, and so is recruitment and customer satisfaction–then the “how” becomes relevant (and the subject of many, many articles and blogs).

What role does Aventure play in corporate culture?

Some of the above values and culture subsets are going to be more meaningful to one person than another, which is why culture may play a larger role in employee retention and recruitment than earlier thought. Aventure has been interested in corporate culture long before it ever became a talking point, and we are happy to talk about it, because it’s a huge part in how we successfully and repeatedly find “the right fit” between an employee and an employer. The right match may have less to do with skill sets and talents and more to do with how well they get along with everyone, how they handle challenges, how invested they are in a solution, and how well they respond to management style.

We also help area businesses bridge gaps and make organizational changes when the company culture is no longer working or new leadership is needed. Our success stories are the many businesses that make their organizational personalities work for their customers, their teams, and their bottom lines.

Is your company culture working for your business?


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