People’s experiences and relationships within an organization define its corporate culture. More specifically, work culture can be broken down into 6 core elements:

  • Employee Sense of Purpose
  • Opportunity
  • Success
  • Appreciation
  • Wellbeing
  • Leadership

An employee’s positive or negative experience within each of these elements affects your firm’s overall culture. This matters. According on a Columbia University studythe job turnover rate in a business with a rich corporate culture is 13.9% compared to a 48.4% rate in firm with a poor company culture.

The 4 Primary Types of Corporate Culture

Like people, no two work cultures are alike. And employees – depending on their personal Productivity Styles (find out your unique Productivity Style by taking my Productivity Style Assessment here) will find that some cultures are a better fit than others.

There are 4 primary types of corporate culture.

  • Clan Culture

Like its name implies, Clan Culture is akin to a large family. Tradition and loyalty are prized; friendliness and collaboration abound.

  • Adhocracy Culture

Risk taking and innovation are rewarded in these dynamic environments. Think fast-paced tech firms where constant change is key.

  • Market Culture

Capturing market share is the prime focus here. Competition can be fierce as employees strive to achieve profit-driving results. (Amazon, anyone?)

  • Hierarchy Culture

Especially found in environments of health and safety, this type of culture adheres to the rules. Policies and procedures mean mistakes – and risk – are few.

Why Does Culture Matter?

Culture = Profits. After all, as the famous saying goes, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

The reason: although “culture” itself is hard to quantify, the results of a thriving corporate culture are not. They are measurable and prove that prioritizing your company’s work environment is well worth the effort.

A rich corporate culture results in the following:

  • Higher employee engagement
  • Better productivity
  • More innovation and creativity
  • Less employee turnover
  • Increased brand identity
  • Better talent pool
  • Higher revenue

If that’s not enough, firms that understand the importance of great company culture outperform their competition by 20%.

Why Do We Avoid Culture Change?

In a 2019 survey of over 1,400 U.S. business leaders:

  • 90% say corporate culture is important at their firms
  • 50% say corporate culture leads to increased growth and productivity


  • %15 say their company’s culture is satisfactory.

These results show that most leaders agree with former GE CEO Jack Welch when he said: “No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

So where is the disconnect?

Too many leaders consider corporate culture an “HR thing.” After all, culture can be hard to quantify on a spreadsheet. Its murkiness makes addressing workplace culture easy to push to the backburner. But this hides a deeper truth: cultural change triggers fear, especially for those in positions of power. Katie Burke, chief people officer at Hubspot, says, “When it comes to culture, most companies have a can’t-do attitude.”

How to Unleash Your Firm’s Potential

It’s simple: employees who enjoy going to work perform well. Those who don’t often fail to achieve their full potential. As a leader, it’s in your hands to improve your firm’s corporate culture – no matter if that looks like a freewheeling creative enterprise or rule following government agency. This will entail three key steps:

  • Define your company’s culture.

What does your firm value? How can you communicate these values?

  • Align that culture with your goals

How can you leverage your values to achieve your goals?

  • Hire people who share your values and goals

This is key. As thought leader Patrick Lencioni, writes, “Hiring without clear and strict criteria for culture fit greatly hampers the potential for success at any organization.”

Consider shoe company Zappo’s strategy for hiring only those who align with their culture: they offer new hires $2,000 to quit after the first week of training to ensure that only those that unequivocally love the company’s culture will remain. That’s true commitment!

How do you begin? To maintain a thriving corporate culture, engage with your employees. Are they happy? What do they wish would change? Observe. Listen. Give people a safe environment to be honest about their daily experiences. This will provide the input you as a leader need to make the changes you must.

“Engaging the hearts, minds, and hands of talent is the most sustainable source of competitive advantage,” says Greg Harris or Quantum Workplace.


Ready to explore how we can help you or your organization create and support a thriving corporate culture?

Let’s talk. Schedule a 20-minute call to discuss your needs and determine whether a coaching or consulting program is right for you or your company.


Carson serves as a consultant to executives at Fortune 500 companies. The author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style, her views have been included in Bloomberg BusinessweekFast CompanyForbesHarvard Business Review blog, and The New York Times.


  • Carson Tate

    Productivity Consultant •Speaker • Author • Leadership Coach