7 Company Culture Examples: Where Does Your Business Fit In?

common company culture blog

Creating an elite company culture is key to an effective recruitment process. Candidates today understand the value of company culture and pay close attention to hints and signals that might be indicative of it. 

From company values to office dynamics and team building, company culture can vary greatly across organisations. It’s important to show prospective candidates how you’ve defined and implemented company cultures, such as ongoing education initiatives, active diversity and inclusion efforts or flexible working schedules. 

Without this, your company may not come across well in the recruitment process and you could miss out on some great hires.

What is company culture?

Company culture refers to the overall atmosphere and attitude within an organisation or company. It is composed of the qualities, aims, experiences, and beliefs that are demonstrated and valued in a specific company.

Examples of company culture include elements such as respect for diversity, focus on customer service, and making employees feel valued. Company culture is not only determined by those who work there but also by owners and higher-ups.

A company’s culture is paramount in establishing an effective team as it brings like-minded individuals together while promoting positive interaction between colleagues and company owners or leaders.

Related reading: 4 Ways to Nurture an Agile Working Environment

Introducing company culture examples

It is generally thought that there are 7 recognised company culture types (although that differs depending on the research). Let’s break down the most widely recognised.

Clan culture

A clan culture is a company culture where information and resources are shared among employees freely and openly. Clan company cultures emphasise an overall sense of belonging for all staff, regardless of rank or tenure. Employees are often open to helping each other out without feeling discouraged or competitive.

Teamwork and collaboration are key values here. The clan company culture encourages communication, feedback, support, and respect within the organisation. Ultimately, a clan culture creates an overall environment of trust between leadership and staff members, providing an inclusive atmosphere and empowering everyone to work in unison towards their common goals.

The potential downsides of a clan culture

Clan company cultures can be beneficial to small businesses looking to create positive energy in the workplace. However, as companies grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to implement this kind of culture due to the difficulty in managing the larger employee base and their diverse needs. 

There is a risk that company goals may be put aside in favour of an individual’s desires, leading to limited growth potential due to a lack of strategic thinking. 

Examples of clan culture brands

Zappos, Google, and Tom’s of Maine

Related reading: Are You Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace?

Purpose culture

Companies that have implemented a purpose culture recognise the power of company values to drive progress and growth. Examples of company cultures that exhibit this can range from for-profit companies executing their mission to create social change, to nonprofits dedicated to their cause.

Organisations with purpose-driven cultures understand that success does not come as easily as moving through day-to-day tasks alone. Rather, it is achieved by aligning company goals with larger global objectives such as sustainability, environmental health, and human rights.

With employees working together to reach a common goal, each company can face challenges more effectively, innovate more rapidly, and consequently move further towards achieving true impact.

Potential downsides of a purpose culture

Purpose culture can be hugely beneficial. But if it’s not managed carefully, it can lead to issues such as groupthink, which results in ideas being stifled before they’re even heard. Employees who work in a company where purpose culture is dominant may increasingly find themselves sticking with the company lines or company-approved thought processes without considering any new and creative solutions.

Examples of companies that thrive by encouraging their employees to embrace a seemingly singular viewpoint are easy to find but clear guidelines need to be established to avoid employee morale and innovation from being compromised.

Examples of purpose culture brands

Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, IKEA, LUSH

Related reading: 3 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement in Hybrid Teams

Hierarchy culture

Hierarchy company culture is a company culture example where there are clear delineations of power between higher and lower-level employees. Generally, management is made up of multiple levels and decision-making takes place at the highest levels. 

This company structure makes for a process-driven environment that strives to repeat successful workflows to minimise risk. At companies with a hierarchy culture, decisions are based on careful evaluation rather than creativity or risk-taking, as those attributes tend to be kept to a minimum.

Potential downsides of a Hierarchy culture

A company culture based on hierarchy can be highly reliable and organised, with a well-defined chain of command that makes assigning responsibility easier. Yet, it can also lead to inflexibility and a lack of dynamism in the company’s operations.

For example, larger companies that emphasise following company protocols could struggle to engage in ventures that require quick resourcefulness or out-of-the-box thinking. This downside of a hierarchical company culture is particularly disadvantageous for businesses that operate in markets where innovation is essential to their success.

Examples of hierarchy culture brands

Goldman Sachs

Related reading: 7 Things You Need to Build a More Connected Workspace

Adhocracy culture

Adhocracy company culture is the epitome of creativity, innovation, and risk-taking. It’s based on flexible collaboration and encourages employees to think outside the box in pursuit of new solutions to existing problems. This type of company culture works best in industries that emphasise rapid change, technology advances, and disruptive innovation such as tech start-ups or venture capitals.

Here, employees are free to take calculated risks in their experiments, which may ultimately result in big payoffs for the company. In an adhocracy company culture, everyone has a chance to contribute their ideas to improve the company’s products and services. It’s a company culture example that comes with a lot of benefits.

Related reading: What are the Differences Between Agile Working vs Flexible Working

Potential downsides of adhocracy culture

Every company culture should contain some elements of adhocracy, allowing for flexible, fast decision-making. While the potential to achieve great profits is present, there can be significant risks as well. If a company has an inefficient adhocracy structure, entire enterprises and products can fail.

Additionally, this type of company culture is often characterised by competition amongst its employees instead of collaboration — a trait that some find motivating yet others may find extremely stressful in practice. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to carefully assess any potential downsides before implementing an overly ambitious company culture of adhocracy.

Example of adhocracy culture brands

Tesla, DoorDash, Riot Games, Spotify

Related reading: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Burnout: Early Signs, Driving Factors and Prevention Tips

Market culture

Market culture is a company culture that emphasises dominance in the market. This culture often takes high-risk strategies to gain competitive advantage, with decisions based on return on investment and market growth. In a market culture company environment, individuals are valued more for their input as it relates to meeting company goals rather than being praised individually for their accomplishments.

There are many advantages to a market-focused culture, but there are also a high number of risks to this approach.

Potential downsides of market culture brands

Market culture brands can create exciting new products and services faster than ever before, but there are potential downsides to be aware of. With the company’s focus being primarily on innovation and rapid growth, some key corporate values such as customer service and building long-term relationships with stakeholders may be neglected.

This market-driven approach also typically features dispersed decision-making which can lead to delays in operations or ineffective product launches. For companies that prioritise profits and market share above all else, sustainability initiatives may become secondary concerns which is a risk in itself.

It’s important for companies employing a market culture to take the time to understand their company values and ensure they are baked into their company structure to reap the full benefits that come with this type of company culture.

Examples of market culture brands

Bluecore, General Electric, Amazon

Related reading: The Future of Work Collaboration: How to Get Your Office ‘Collaboration Ready’

Customer-first culture

Companies that adopt a customer-first culture prioritise their customers’ satisfaction over personal accomplishments or company goals. This company culture example focuses on providing the best service possible at all times with every customer interaction, regardless of how many employees connect with the customer directly.

Providing stellar customer service is seen by these companies as a worthy goal and an essential part of their company’s success. Often, the product or service they provide is built from scratch with the customer in mind throughout business development. By fully committing themselves to putting customers first, these companies can provide unbeatable levels of satisfaction for their customers.

Potential downsides of customer-first cultures

Building a company culture that puts customers first can be beneficial in the short term, but could also carry some unwanted long-term consequences. For instance, businesses may end up wasting company resources on customer demands that don’t make fiscal sense or pursuing sales opportunities that ultimately do not serve the company’s interests.

This could put pressure on company finances and divert resources away from company growth and creating value for shareholders. Additionally, a customer-first company culture often requires employees to be more reactive than proactive in terms of responding to customer needs — meaning employees may be less able to prioritise upcoming projects and internally-driven initiatives.

Reacting to customer issues can also lead to an “always on” mentality, leaving team members feeling overworked and stressed out which in turn can lead to lower company morale and employee retention problems.

Companies need to consider carefully how they approach company culture examples such as this and weigh up the potential risks versus rewards of a customer-first mentality.

Examples of customer-first brands

Uber, Airbnb, McDonald’s, Slack

Related reading: Technologies That Improve Employee Well-Being

Role-based culture

A company with a role-based culture (also known as the Handy model) places more value on an employee’s specific skill set instead of their position within the company. These cultures focus heavily on excellence and give employees greater control over projects and tasks.

To succeed in this kind of company, each employee must be highly skilled in their workplace role. They should be among the best in their particular field. For this reason, companies like these tend to provide higher wages as compensation for their expertise and valuable contributions. Role-based culture is one of the most rewarding company culture examples out there.

Potential downsides of role-based cultures

Role-based company cultures are increasingly common, yet there are inherent risks. In a role-based company culture, employees tend to define themselves in terms of their exact positions or tasks within an organisation, which can lead to conflict when goals and responsibilities aren’t clearly defined. 

Such a culture can limit creativity and dynamism as it encourages a singular approach to problem-solving. Companies who utilise role-based company cultures should be conscious of the potential negative effects and devote resources to setting clear expectations for roles and responsibilities to avoid any potential pitfalls that come with company cultures focused on individual roles.

Examples of Role-based culture brands

Nescafe, Axa, Wells Fargo & Co

Related reading: 8 Takeaways from Cloudbooking’s Research on the Future of the Workplace

How to choose the best type of company culture for your business

Choosing the best company culture for your business is essential for achieving long-term success. Consider what values you want to prioritise in your company, who you are trying to attract as employees and customers, and any other factors that may affect company culture to make an informed decision.

Spending time researching company culture examples and analysing company trends can help guide you in this important step. Ultimately, when it comes to company cultures, you need to ensure that the one chosen is aligned with the company goals, reinforces positive workplace experiences, and produces successful results.

Workplace culture is evolving, and workplaces are having to change to keep up with employee needs. Download our The Future of Work: 8 Trends in Workplace Transformation Report to get the insights you need to ensure your organisation is up to date. 

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