What is Workplace Culture?


What is Workplace Culture?

Defining workplace culture is understanding two concepts, which are;

  • The way we do things around here.
  • The way we treat one another around here.

Before we delve into the definition of workplace culture, let us understand what culture is about.

Culture is defined as a set of patterns of human activity within a community or social group and the symbolic structures that give significance to such activity. Customs, laws, dress, architectural style, social standards, and traditions are all examples of cultural elements.

We are going to apply this definition in the context of workplace culture, workplace culture can be defined as the set of human activities within an organization or workplace, along with the symbolic structures that give meaning and significance to those activities. It encompasses the customs, values, beliefs, behaviors, and norms shaping the overall work environment and employee interaction.

Sinha, (1990) explained further that work culture means work-related activities and meanings attached to such activities in the framework of norms and values regarding work. These activities, norms, and values are generally contextualized in the organization.

In every organization, certain boundaries define the goals that shape the organization’s direction towards its growth as well as constraints. While every organization has its own set of limitations and strengths, its employees bring in a unique blend of skills, knowledge, needs, and values that complement the organization’s overall objectives.

The workplace culture is an integral part of the organizational culture that reflects the organization’s core values, beliefs, and practices. It encompasses various aspects such as customer centricity, teamwork, and continuous process improvement, which are critical to the success of any organization.

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The workplace culture is not just limited to the policies and procedures of the organization but also encompasses the collective thoughts, actions, and behaviors of its people. It forms the foundation of integrity, trust, and respect, which are essential for creating a positive and productive work environment.

 Every organization has its unique culture, whether it is officially acknowledged or not. Workplace culture is like the air employees breathe. It shapes the overall workings of an organization.

Types of Workplace Culture.

There are four main types of workplace culture. These are;


Just as the name suggests, hierarchy culture stresses rules, policies, procedures, chain of command, and centralized decision-making. It focuses on stability and structure.

It emphasizes the notion of “Getting it done right.” In addition to its rigid structure, there is usually a dress code for employees to follow.

The hierarchical culture is beneficial for organizations because it caters to its main objectives but its rigidity leaves little room for creativity.


Organizations that adopt the clan culture behave like a family and follow rituals, traditions, teamwork, team spirit, and self-management. It emphasizes the notion of “We are all in this together.”

It prioritizes a collaborative work environment where every employee is valued. Because of the highly collaborative work environment, companies that adopt this culture can boast of a high rate of employee engagement. There is also a great possibility for market growth with a clan culture.

The downside to adopting the clan culture is that it works well with start-ups and small enterprises. It is difficult to maintain as the organization grows.


Adhocracy culture focuses on innovations, creativity, and risk-taking. Adhocracy culture is similar to clan culture in that it emphasizes flexibility. It emphasizes the notion of  “Risk it to get the biscuit.”

Adhocracy culture helps organizations get high profits because employees are focused on creativity and the development of new ideas.

It is not afraid of risk, but there is a chance that a risk taken may affect the business.


Market culture prioritizes profitability. Every decision and action is made to increase profits.

This includes prioritizing revenue generation, cost-cutting, and increasing market share. As a result, organizations that adopt a market culture tend to be highly profitable and financially successful. In this type of culture, employees are often motivated by financial incentives, and the organization is often competitive and driven to outperform its competitors in the market.

Organizations that adopt market culture are profitable because the entire focus is to gain profit.

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Element of Workplace Culture.

Several elements help us understand the complexity of Workplace culture. Some of these elements are;

  1. Communication: Communication is the key factor in building trust and unity amongst employees. Workplace culture helps the flow of information within the organization. Transparency and openness in communication are important for a healthy workplace culture. Communication fosters trust and engagement between employees and also reduces the risk of misunderstanding.
  2. Values and Beliefs: An organization’s core values and beliefs are the foundation of its culture. The core values and beliefs guide their decision-making, behavior, and actions within the organizations.
  3. Work Environment: This includes the physical workspace, office layout, and ambiance of the workplace. A well-designed work environment can help foster a collaborative workplace culture.
  4. Mission and Vision: A clear mission and vision provide employees with a clear goal. This clarity helps employees to work towards a common goal leading to job satisfaction.
  5. Work-life balance: A culture that supports work-life balance is important for employee satisfaction. Flexibility in work arrangements, understanding the importance of personal time, and offering benefits that promote employee wellness can lead to a healthier and more productive work environment.
  6. Ethics and Integrity: The ethics, integrity, and moral principles that guide the behavior and decision-making of individuals within the workplace play an important role in workplace culture.
  7. Leadership: The style of Leadership adopted by leaders sets the tone role in terms of the values and the behaviors that are expected and encouraged. 
  8. Recognition and Rewards: Recognition and rewards are also important factors in creating a positive workplace culture. Employees who feel recognized and appreciated for their hard work are more likely to be engaged and motivated, which can lead to better productivity and higher job satisfaction.
  9. Respect and Trust: Respect and trust is an important workplace culture as it build the relationship between employees and management. When employees feel respected and valued by their managers, they are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty and commitment to the organization. Trust is also important, as it builds the foundation for open communication and collaboration between employees and managers.
  10. Norms and Behavior: This includes the way employees and managers communicate and collaborate, and also the flexibility that is offered in work arrangements and personal time. Offering benefits and other perks can also help to create a positive workplace culture, as it shows that the organization values the well-being of its employees.

The Importance of Workplace Culture.

Workplace culture is important in an organization. We will explore these

  1. When culture is aligned with an organization, it leads to high employee engagement.
  2. Working together with people requires trust. Cultivating workplace culture builds trust between employees and management.
  3. Positive workplace environments such as caring, respectful, forgiving, inspiring, and meaningful improve individual productivity.
  4. A distinct culture with aligned branding gives a business a competitive advantage in attracting clients.
  5. Workplace culture keeps employees in check and curbs bad behavior.
  6. Policies and practices work best when they reflect a strong and healthy culture.












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