What Makes a Great Organizational Culture?

By Eric Dickmann

September 28, 2021

Employee Recognition, Organizational Culture

In 2020, Fortune named Hilton and UKG as the top workplaces for employees. Statistics state that 96% of Hilton workers find their company as a great place to work, while a stunning 97% of employees find UKG as a comfortable workplace. According to Hilton President and CEO Christopher Nassetta, their business is about the people working to make the company exceptional. Hilton strongly relies on great talent who show passion in their work. Hilton invests in creating a unique workplace where employees can interact, collaborate, and be productive. On the other hand, UKG offers its teams comprehensive benefits packages such as fully-paid healthcare premiums. These top-performing companies are examples of businesses that have a great organizational culture. They have been consistently excellent in providing service to their customers because they have empowered their employees. A great organizational culture is what the organization believes in and stands for. Organizations must have strong recognition for their employees' efforts and make them feel part of something bigger and better.

A healthy working environment can transform an employee into an advocate. When the culture is not toxic, and the company's future goals are clearly defined, different perspectives are developed ad directed towards a shared goal. Companies should celebrate diversity as employees are unified toward a common purpose. Having a great organizational culture ultimately builds better collaboration, teamwork, and communication between the employers and employees in the business. Here are great steps you can take to create a strong organizational culture.

Elements of a Great Organization

The people are the heart of your organization. You may have the resources and machinery, but your employees are the personifications of your business business' mission statement. Investing in strengthening your organization should be your utmost priority. In 2020, 83% of companies have introduced a flexible workspace policy. This policy allows employees to choose which environment they are more productive at and improves the necessary elements to increase efficiency, reliability, and profit. It is much more costly to hire new personnel than keeping your existing employees. Besides the money you have to spend in this area, you have to reassess and condition the newly hired business model. A great organizational culture recognizes the value of its employees to the business and works towards each individual's growth and improvement. According to Hypepotamus, there are four major elements to every great organizational culture:

  • Good Leadership- Be a good, compassionate, and competitive leader. You are the backbone of your company, and everyone, from the regular office worker to the managers, looks up to you. Show your team how to act and what you expect of them in the coming years. A good leader brings out the best of every individual and believes in the essence of teamwork, brainstorming, and trust. People often think that a leader and boss have the same qualities. Unlike a boss who makes his/her employees work till the deadline and sermons the staff when they have missed a small detail, a leader motivates his team to accomplish results with their best efforts and instructs instead of insults. Remember that people want a leader who is clear on expectations. They want to have a leader who cares about them and their future.
  • Non-Toxic Community- Employees want to feel that they belong in a great organizational culture. Do not treat your workers as people you just pay to get things done; treat them like family. Shouting and unhelpful criticism is why many employees shift jobs or look for a better company to work in. There are times that competition in promotion or recognition goes way over some employee's heads that they tend to destroy another employee's reputation to look good or better. You can avoid having a non-toxic community by treating each employee fairly and giving them reasonable incentives for commendable tasks or performance. A healthy working environment promotes growth, diversity and attracts investors and fresh talents alike.
  • Culturally-Fit Employees- Employees should not only be qualified for the job description; they should also be culturally-fit in your company's ecosystem. How do you know if an employee is fit for your organization? A culturally-fit employee shares the same ideas, values, and goals with the company. He/she wants the company to succeed and does his/her best in working for the best results. If you're going to make these employees stay, you should have a clear company mission statement. Young professionals yearn to be part of solving a problem greater than themselves, so they need to understand the "WHY" of what they do.
  • Communication- You may have read this repeatedly, but we at FiveEchelon believe that effective communication is the key to a successful business. Be straightforward with your approach, and find ways to push employees to do their best. Do not make it come to the point that your goals are unaccomplished because you and your employees are not on the same page. As much as possible, create an environment with honest and free-flowing information. Google's Project Aristotle shows that most collaborative teams are the ones where everyone is given a chance to speak their thoughts and interact with one another. How people interact in a group is just as important as who is on the team
Importance of Culture

Companies should invest in their employees and find ways to help them whenever they can. It is not enough that you have excellent sales skills; you should also learn how to put yourself in your employee's shoes. In our interview with business expert- Bryan Clayton at The Virtual CMO Podcast, he explains how to develop your entrepreneurial skills. Gallup survey reports that 85% of employees are dissatisfied with their work environment. Sadly, some companies don't recognize these numbers and continually pressure employees with heaps of paperwork and terrifying deadlines. Research shows that investing in your workforce is the sm artest business investment you can make. Entrepreneur Asia Pacific lists the three reasons why you should invest in your employees:

  • Happy Employees, even Happier Customers- The way you treat your employees reflect their customer service and work performance. Your employees are your closest link to your target market, and having them cheerful and highly responsive is a great plus to your sales portfolio and company reputation. Strong employee engagement leads to brand loyalty. Together with investing in customer lifetime values must come the long-term retention of dedicated employees.
  • Listening is Investing- Don't turn a blind eye to your employees' needs. Sometimes, the small things for you mean a lot for them! Making them involved in huge company decisions by asking them for their opinions or suggestions help them feel valued and engaged in the business' outcomes. This initiative gives you the chance to hear your quiet employees and assess who among them deserves a promotion or incentives. All your employees have a lot of insight that can be used to improve the quality of service. If they are given the right amount of time and support, they can help you make a better product or service.
  • Challenge Your Employees- Urge them to be the better version of themselves by giving them tasks that are out of their comfort zones. This will allow them to grow as a person and a better employee. Believe it or not, but employees love being challenged. Sometimes, their day-to-day routine gets them bored and lazy to get up. Spicing up their job tasks by giving them something new to work at will trigger their creativity, willingness, and focus. The least you want to have are mechanical employees who only act when they are asked to. Your company should aim to have self-driven workers who take the initiative to work their best effort for the company's benefit.
Happy Employees Statistics

You are the manager of this great organizational culture. Sometimes, companies tend to start strong and later on fail with the consistency of maintaining a healthy and stress-free work environment. Entrepreneur Asia Pacific enumerates four ways to help managers commit to improving employee engagement:

  • Regularly monitor performance
  • Show them how to act; don't rely on talk alone
  • Host transparent 360 review assessments to encourage holistic growth
  • Revisit expectations and identify which ones you have achieved so far
Visible and Invisible Organizational Culture

Hiring Culturally-Fit People in Your Company

This is where the Human Resources (HR) team comes in. The HR team is the one responsible for hiring talent and scouting for potential game-changers in your business. All people have different sets of skills, and your responsibility is to sort all these talents out and determine which few can bring your business to another level. Finding culturally-fit people may be a challenge for many companies, especially startups because sometimes the first impressions get the best of us. Sometimes job interviewers judge the book by its cover and later realize that the candidate can actually bring value to the company in the long-run. In our interview with business tycoon- Karla Singson, she enumerates your ideal business' social network. Keep in mind that machinery and capital may always be there, but your business's human aspect is the hardest to build and keep. The Olson Group enumerates the five benefits of investing in your human capital investment:

  • Increase Employee Satisfaction- A recent survey shows that a high percentage of employees believe that their organization's c ommitment to professional development is fundamental to their job satisfaction. You must show your employees that your organization is not primarily focused on profit, but also concerned about their career growth and financial welfare.
  • Improve Retention Rates- Around 54% of employees believe that career advancement opportunities are more important than their salary. Keep in mind that employees are searching for businesses that value their talent and are willing to keep them in the long-term. Job applicants also consider the retention statistics of your company before they consider applying for the job.
  • Improve Return of Investment- Invest in seminars that are directed at improving the worker's mental and physical health. Giving your employees room for growth and learning can ultimately improve your bottom line and secure your future undertakings.
  • Better Recruitment- Human Capital Development helps you to retain your employees and recruit possible prospects. Your company will only continue to grow and reach greater heights if more millennials enter the workplace and provide value to your brand. A company with a robust human capital plan can demonstrate its commitment to employee development goals to millennial candidates.
  • Greater Company Culture- As your employees grow, so does your company. A higher percentage of employee engagement can lead to a better, safer, and more fun working environment. Your employees are willing to learn from you and the business, don't keep them out from essential business decisions and keep them involved and active in company meetings and strategic plan formulations. This will inspire them to work harder and produce more quality output to help the company reach where it wants to be. Brent Gleeson in Forbes recommended four steps to boost employee engagement
  1. Be transparent-  Transparency gives employees a sense of deeper investment. It enables them to be part of something larger than themselves.
  2. Task meaningful work- Doing something that matters and gives one a sense of satisfaction and purpose
  3. Play together- Having fun together breaks the routine and encourages collaboration. Employees spend more time with their work colleagues than they do with their families. Find ways to help them build meaningful relationships with their coworkers.
  4. Volunteer together- Working together for the good of the world can make a difference. It can also help support the company's overall mission and values.
Creating an Innovation Culture

Sometimes hiring the right people to build a great organizational culture can be confusing and tedious. There will be times that your candidates are excellent on paper and first impression, but later turn out to be unfit for the company position because they have a different objective and standard. Celarity Blog lists the ten tips to take note of when choosing the right job candidate:

  • Read the interviewee's body language
  • Focus on specific accomplishments and experiences
  • Evaluate their work ethic and attitude
  • Find out if they are a life-long learner
  • Get feedback from people who are not in the interview
  • Know what they are passionate about
  • Give them a project or problem to solve or troubleshoot
  • Pay attention to the questions they ask
  • Understand what motivates them to work harder
  • Identify if they are fit for your company's culture

Maintaining a Healthy Business' Environment

It may be easy to start a great organizational culture, but it is even more challenging to stay consistent and directed towards your plan. There are many times that leaders would draw a long-term, well-directed plan to promote a great organizational culture, and later on, fail because they are inconsistent with its implementation. Do not be the type of leader who would start great in the first two or three months of the new policy and fail with the policy because of implementation inconsistencies. Maintaining a healthy business' environment ensures that the employees are physically and mentally fit throughout, and the leaders are determined and passionate about improving the work environment. According to recent surveys, employees highly value their coworkers and supervisors' decency and attitude towards them. Despite the reasonable salary that employees receive, some may choose to leave their organization because they are unhappy during work hours and unsatisfied with their company "s approach towards specific events or circumstances. Balance Careers gives us the five things that employees value in their work environment:

  1. Competitive Salary- Employees are looking for a company that would recognize their talent and is willing to support them financially throughout their careers. This aspect is the one which is most recognized by job seekers. With prices nowadays, they have to make sure that they have a source of income that allows them to support their family and themselves. Sometimes, a clean and vibrant workplace may be compensation for the low wages that companies may give.
  2. Good Benefit Package- Aside from salary, employees search for companies that can give excellent comprehensive benefits such as insurance coverage, paid leaves, and special allowances.
  3. Flexible Schedules- Employers and employees should both aim to have excellent work and life balance. Employees tend to participate in organizations that allow them to grow holistically and gives them the option to manage their time and work during their convenience. Giving your employees enough room to breathe and grow will allow them to become more productive in their craft.
  4. Recognition- Don't fail to give the proper recognition to employees who have stepped out of their comfort zone to secure highly-commendable results. Rewarding your team with small incentives or even a simple certificate will boost their morale and encourage them to keep up the outstanding performance.
  5. Team Atmosphere- Many employees opt to leave their workplace because of the toxic work environment that they have to encounter day by day. Management should solve this dilemma and provide each worker with a safe and comfortable working space. If a team doesn't function as a whole unit, they can never get things accomplished. This is why it is essential for the leader to monitor the happenings within the organization and ensure that they are happy with their tasks and have enough tools or resources to beat the assigned deadlines.
6 Steps to Change Culture

Now that you know how to start a great organizational culture, it is now your responsibility to keep your culture lively and dedicated to your company's mission, vision, and goals. CIPHR enumerates the six ways to maintain a healthy work environment and promote a great organizational culture: 

  1. Strike the right tone with a careful color palette- Having a decent looking palette related to your company's theme is essential. Work can be stressful; this is why you want to have a decent looking workplace that would lighten your employees' mood and encourage a coordinated system. As much as possible, pick a bright set of colors such as red, orange, or blue. These colors strike energy, enthusiasm, and encourage a strong sense of focus and responsibility.
  2. Enable healthy food choice- Keeping a healthy diet is very important, especially in this time of the pandemic. Serving a well-balanced course of fruits, vegetables, and healthy beverages during lunch, break, or dinner time is a great way to keep your employees active, healthy, and most of all, disease-free. Motivate by example and start your healthy movement by investing in fitness equipment and wellness programs for the employees to use.
  3. Encourage movement- Sitting in front of the computer or writing forms on the desk for eight hours or more can lead to stress, back pain, and most of the time, an unhealthy work routine. Companies should encourage their employees to walk around the company premises during break hours or give them enough time to do light to moderate exercise routines. Having a standing or treadmill desk in the office can provide them with the option to stand up, move, and stimulate blood flow while accomplishing tasks.
  4. Decorate the area with living plants- What's better than working while being close to nature? Decorating the company's working area with real plants gives the space a glow up and gives you and your team fresh air to breathe. Having fresh air around and natural aesthetics everywhere can stimulate brain function and promote a positive outlook.
  5. Put on some music- According to SHRM, 71% of adults state that they feel more productive when they are listening to music. Having music in the background triggers the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical thats puts us in a good mood. Music serves as a great motivator and concentration aid for employees, especially in a crowded and task-filled environment.
  6. Have good lighting- Make sure that your office is well-lit and that all areas of the working area is lighted up. You wouldn't want your employees working in the dark! Harsh lighting can cause migraines and eye irritation. Ensure that the light source is well-positioned, and does not reflect off objects, and causes severe headaches and eye strain.
Values of a Good Leader

Investing in a happy and healthy working environment should be the goal of every business owner. Here are other tips business owners and managers should take note of in the long-run:

  • Documented Culture- First, you should have a well-documented culture statement. HubSpot famously coined it a Culture Code. A culture code defines your core values. It talks about what the company beli eves. Most importantly, This explains the mission and vision of your business. Values need to be emulated by managers and instructed down to the departments. The culture will start to manifest itself as everyone works with a common purpose. Your organization's culture code should be present in both paper and action.
  • Strategy- A great organizational culture does not exist without a systematic approach. A company needs a plan of action with clear timelines and priorities. This reinforces the company's core values and helps maintain focus on the right priorities. Your plan should reflect the department's unique responsibilities in line with its overall strategy and objectives. When you define your long-term strategy, you can plan how to maximize your resources to secure the greatest possible returns. Learn how to build an effective marketing plan!
  • Growth- Growth is a developmental process that contributes to a great organizational culture. Providing growth opportunities improve the quality of an employee's work experience. The company also benefits from developing workers to their full potential. Commitment to learning is small and steady steps that you need to take. Employees need to know that if they invest in the  company, the company will support them too.
  • Mentoring- Learning from well-experienced mentors allows you to utilize your resources and gain great advice from others. A mentor provides personal support to facilitate success and develop talent to secure long-term productivity. Mentoring should be encouraged at all levels of the organization. Everyone can benefit from the experiences of others!
  • Giving Back- An organization is also a part of a community. A great organizational culture has a corporate social responsibility. Volunteer your time and skills by helping to repaint a playground, visiting residents at a care center, or offering to help the community's residents. Your company can also donate to a preferred charity. Giving back to the community serves a common good without expecting anything in return. Acts of charity are a tangible way to demonstrate your values to the community.


YES, a great organizational culture requires much money, time, and effort. Businesses should not only be profit-driven; they should also be values and community-driven. Establishing your organization takes more than profit; it requires consistency of action and absolute dedication and passion by the company leaders. Employees must see the values you preach in the way you talk and move. You should also remember that the people you let into your organization reflect what kind of organization you have and the values you hold. Train your team to be the best version of themselves and give them all the support they require. Your employees' are the future managers and leaders of your organization, and having them unlock their highest potential will determine the future of your business. Many leaders get so consumed with the power they hold that they forget that with great power comes great responsibility. It is natural to face hindrances that prevent growth and development; profits may turn out lower than expected, or other businesses may outshine strategies. Remember that your business can bounce back because you have a motivated team behind you to recover from losses and recreate a much more sustainable approach. Part of having a great organizational culture is transforming your team through agile marketing. In our interview with international speaker- Andrea Fryrear, she elaborates on making your team agile.

Change is constant, and so should be your approach towards your employees. As much as possible, bear with them during tight situations and understand them at their worst. Your small acts of kindness from their bosses will mean a lot to them. Do not consider your employees as a cost, and instead consider all of them as a significant investment! Whether you are a starting business or a veteran in the industry, management is a challenging position to handle. In times of doubt and uncertainty in finalizing business decisions, have no hesitation in reaching out to our marketing experts at FiveEchelon. From helping you decide on the right product or service to market to maintaining a great organizational culture, we provide marketing expertise without the expense!

Live your Values, Execute Your Strategy, and Fulfill Your Mission!

It's time to grow your company!

Learn how a fractional CMO can help your business grow!

Contact us today to learn more about our Virtual CMO advisory service.

Eric Dickmann

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the Founder / CMO of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast "The Virtual CMO" and YouTube series "Work-Life" and a fractional CMO for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies to bring innovative products to the market.

You might also like