Skip to content
Best Practices

8 Types of Company Culture: Which is Yours?


There are a few different ways to succeed as a business, and just as many types of company culture. Traditionally, companies have focused their efforts on offering high-quality products or excellent customer service. But perhaps what truly gives an organization its capacity to thrive are two things: its strategy (its destination and plan for getting there), and the company culture that drives it (its fuel). 

What is company culture?

Company culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that characterize the way individuals within an organization interact with each other and approach their work. It encompasses the unwritten norms and customs that influence the overall work environment, fostering a sense of identity and guiding how employees collaborate, make decisions, and contribute to the company’s success.

Why is company culture so important?

Company culture (or corporate culture), can be defined as the values, beliefs, and group norms that guide a workforce in its behaviours, has become a hot topic among business leaders in recent years as a measure of company success. In a research paper on corporate culture, 92% of surveyed companies agreed that culture is a major factor in a firm’s value. 

Various research shows that companies with strong company cultures and high employee engagement experience higher profitability, better productivity, earn great reputations, and have ease attracting the best talent in the market.

For those reasons, business leaders have been doing their best to implement employee reward and recognition programs as part of their culture to get the very most out of their employees. 

But what makes a “strong company culture”? 

It’s not one size fits all. If you’ve worked in a couple of different companies through the course of your career, you’ve probably experienced, firsthand, how every culture is wildly different. In a Harvard Business Review study, “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture”, culture experts Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng made their efforts to define the 8 of the most common corporate cultures based on two factors placed along an axis: how people interact, and how they respond to change.

You can watch The 8 Types of Company Culture explainer video here.

Let’s get into the characteristics of these 8 styles of corporate cultures to find out which one sounds the most like your organization. Bear in mind that you might identify with more than one of these culture types since cultures can often be a mix. Most of the time, you’ll find you identify strongly with one primary culture as well as one secondary culture.  

The 8 types of company culture 

1. The caring culture — “we support & help each other” 

Caring corporate cultures are warm working environments that prioritize mutual trust, respect, and positive relationships within the company. In the Harvard study, 63% of companies in the sample ranked themselves as having this cultural style as their first or second culture type. A perfect example of this type of culture can be found at HubSpot, where they believe that “culture is to recruiting as marketing is to product,” which is why they have made cultivating a company culture that their employees love, a top priority. With initiatives such as flexible work, unlimited vacation and continuous learning support, HubSpot is a great example of a company with a caring culture.

types of company culture

Your company might have a caring culture if:

  • On any given day in the office, you see lots of teamwork and cross-functional collaboration between teammates. 
  • Your employees treat one another kindly.
  • Your leaders make it a point to put employee needs first. 
  • Your corporate culture feels like a family.

2. The purpose culture — “we care about what we do” 

The purpose culture is an idealistic one. 9% of companies in the HBR identified with this culture type. Companies with a purpose culture care about the role their organization plays in the world. Patagonia is an excellent example of a company with a purpose culture. Patagonia is built on the mission to create the best products while causing the least amount of harm. From their Worn Wear Program where you can buy second hand Patagonia products, to their 1% for the planet initiative where a percentage of the company’s annual sales go to good causes, Patagonia has become a successful purpose culture leader.

types of company culture

Your company might have a purpose culture if:

  • It is passionate about its mission. 
  • Its mission is focused on sustainability or supporting the global community. 
  • Your employees feel united in your company’s mission and vision in creating a brighter future.

3. The order culture — “we follow the rules”

The order culture is typical in traditional industries that prefer structure. 15% of companies in the HBR belong to this style. An example of a company with this culture style would be the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). This makes sense because their whole business is about following the rules. 

SEC logo

Your company might have an order culture if:

  • Employees are rewarded for following the rules.
  • It has long-standing shared norms and customs.
  • It is cooperative in nature, but likes to do things right. 
  • Processes and changes in the business are very predictable. 
  • It has very clear hierarchies.
  • Its guidelines and processes are well documented, followed and almost set in stone. 
  • Making big changes is often a slow and unwelcome process.

4. The learning culture — “we never stop learning”

In a learning corporate culture, leaders expect employees to be curious, innovative, open-minded and creative. 7% of organizations in the HBR classified themselves as having this culture. For example, Adobe is often referred to as  a company with a learning culture. Adobe prides itself on its strong internship programs that support the growth and development of their interns to equip them with the necessary skills to be successful in the future. They also offer a learning fund that helps support employees with reskilling and advancing their education to better support them in their careers. 

types of company culture

Your company might have a learning culture if:

  • It regularly supports experimentation and learning.
  • It offers tons of opportunities for professional development. 
  • A day in the office has you regularly exposed to fruitful brainstorming sessions.
  • All ideas are welcomed (the sky’s the limit).
  • Lunch & learns are frequent events. 
  • Crushing goals is important, but what matters most is that employees are always learning and growing.

5. The enjoyment culture — “we have fun!” 

What’s the point of doing anything if you can’t enjoy it? This is the attitude of companies with an enjoyment culture. Only 2% of companies in the HBR study identified with this style. These cultures value independence and flexibility. Google is notorious for offering employees fun incentives and focusing on a culture of enjoyment. From supplying breakfast, lunch and snacks , video game stations, games like table tennis, and even nap pods, it’s clear they focus on making the office culture enjoyable so that employees like being at work!

types of company culture

Your company might have an enjoyment culture if:

  • Your work atmosphere is enjoyable to be in.
  • A day in the office can be filled with excitement and spontaneity. 
  • The office is filled with quirky things like slides or a foosball table.
  • Although your teams get their jobs done, they’re sure not to take themselves so seriously.
  • Work doesn’t just feel like work, it’s enjoyable. 
  • Jokes and humour are welcome.
  • Morale and engagement are high.

6. The results culture — “we’re all about crushing goals”

Unlike the enjoyment culture, the results culture is more about the achievement than the process of getting there. Companies with this corporate culture style take their goals very seriously and measure their success by meeting those goals. 89% of companies identified with this style in the HBR study. An example of a company with a results culture style is J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. This company is guided by the desire to “be the best financial services company in the world” highlighting their results-driven culture and determination to achieve their goal of being the best. 

types of company culture

Your company might have a results culture if:

  • Outcomes of projects are more important than the process of getting there. 
  • Leadership values achievement more than anything. 
  • Staff are expected to meet and exceed their team and individual goals. 
  • Managers spend time defining clear objectives for teams and individuals. 
  • Your company celebrates wins regularly.

7. The authority culture — ‘we are confident leaders”

Companies with an authority culture have very confident leadership that are sure of themselves and their direction. 4% of companies in the HBR study identified with this style. A good example of a company that represents this style is Huawei:

types of company culture

Your company might have an authority culture if:

  • It is directed by strong, confident leadership.
  • Leaders value boldness, decisiveness, and making big moves. 
  • You can find dominant, confident characters in all levels of the company. 
  • The company is very competitive in its market.
  • The work environment also feels competitive. 
  • Individual efforts are highly valued. 
  • Personal goals are supported.

8. The safety culture — “safety first”

Simply put, companies with safety cultures put safety as their top priority. They are extremely careful with everything they do. 8% of companies in the HBR study identified with this culture style. An example of a company that embodies this style is Texas Roadhouse. In a recent interview, Program Manager Matt McMahan, stated that “Texas Roadhouse’s mission is to provide Legendary Food, Legendary Service. Neither of those goals can be achieved in an environment where guests, vendors, or employees feel unsafe.” They have made safety a number one priority and implemented initiatives such as frequent communication, daily awareness and education to mitigate safety risks. 

types of company culture

Your company might have a safety culture if: 

  • Your environment is very predictable and calculated. 
  • Plans are made very carefully, always considering risks, and prioritizing safety. 
  • No decisions are carried out without thinking very carefully. 
  • Potential risks are always anticipated and backup plans are made. 
  • The company regularly goes through safety procedures. 
  • It’s not common to jump into an idea without a careful assessment first. 
  • Leadership is very realistic and cautious with its plans. 

To learn more about core values, click the button above and unlock the complete guide!

Transforming Your Culture With Employee Rewards and Recognition

Now you have a better idea of which type of company culture your organization falls into, your next step is to make sure you’re doing the right things to support it and one of those things is offering employee rewards and recognition!

Implementing an employee rewards and recognition programs is a great way to improve productivity and employee engagement no matter which corporate culture you’re in. Discover the transformative impact that these programs can have on workplace culture:

1.  Fostering Alignment with Values:

 Employee rewards go beyond just recognizing outstanding performance; they serve as a means to reinforce and celebrate behaviours and achievements that align with your company’s core values. When employees are acknowledged for embodying these values, it creates a culture where everyone strives to uphold the shared principles, fostering a sense of purpose and unity.

2.  Promoting Collaborative Spirit: 

Incentive programs that encourage teamwork and collaboration can transform your workplace culture into one that values collective achievement. By rewarding collaborative efforts, employees are motivated to work together synergistically, breaking down silos and enhancing communication across departments.

3.  Enhancing Employee Engagement: 

A well-structured rewards system can significantly boost employee engagement. When individuals see that their hard work leads to tangible rewards, they become more invested in their roles and the company’s success. This heightened engagement drives productivity and innovation while reducing turnover rates.

4.  Recognizing Milestones and Achievements: 

Employee rewards provide a platform to celebrate both small and significant milestones. Whether it’s hitting quarterly targets or completing long-term projects, acknowledging these accomplishments not only boosts morale but also sets a standard of excellence for others to strive towards.

5.  Instilling a Sense of Belonging: 

Personalized and thoughtful rewards show employees that they are valued members of the organization. This inclusivity fosters a strong sense of belonging and loyalty, making them more likely to invest in the company’s long-term success.

6.  Motivating Growth Mindset: 

Rewards tied to learning and professional development can inspire a growth mindset within your company culture. When employees see that their commitment to learning new skills is recognized and rewarded, they are more likely to actively seek opportunities for self-improvement.

7.  Driving Employee Retention: 

A culture built on meaningful rewards has the potential to significantly reduce turnover rates. Employees who feel appreciated and rewarded for their contributions are more likely to stay loyal to the organization, contributing to long-term stability and growth.

8.  Encouraging Innovation: 

Rewarding innovation and creative thinking sends a powerful message that your company values fresh ideas. This fosters an environment where employees are motivated to think outside the box and contribute novel solutions to challenges.

9.  Celebrating Diversity:

Diverse teams often bring a wealth of perspectives and ideas. Recognizing and rewarding contributions from various backgrounds and experiences can help create an inclusive culture that thrives on diversity.

10.  Setting a Positive Example: 

When leadership actively participates in and supports the rewards system, it sets a precedent for the entire organization. This cascading effect encourages employees at all levels to engage more actively in their work and the company’s culture.

Incorporating employee rewards strategically into your company culture can yield far-reaching benefits. By celebrating values, nurturing collaboration, and promoting engagement, these rewards become not only a means of acknowledging accomplishments but also a cornerstone for building a thriving and harmonious workplace environment.

In the realm of business success, company culture emerges as a pivotal force, driving strategies and shaping triumphs. The resonance of a company’s mission and the fabric of its workforce interactions constitute its culture’s core. Moreover, integrating employee rewards within this cultural framework transcends recognition, fostering collaboration, engagement, and innovation. This synergy cultivates an ecosystem of excellence, cementing a workplace where shared values and accomplishments intertwine seamlessly, propelling businesses toward unparalleled success.

Related Posts