How Do You Create a Winning Corporate Culture?

Last updated: Apr 18, 2023

Have you ever heard the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast?” There’s a reason why this expression has been long-standing in the business world. Having a winning corporate culture can make or break organizational success.


In this article, we’ll unpack what comprises corporate culture and the steps to create a winning corporate culture.


What is Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture encompasses a company’s shared beliefs, values, and attitudes. While companies often define their culture with core values and mission statements, corporate culture typically develops organically over time. Everything from employee benefits and dress code to business hours and office setup can dictate corporate culture.


Why is Corporate Culture Important?

Creating a winning corporate culture has a lot of benefits, including:

  • Providing a positive workplace environment.
  • Attracting high-value employees.
  • Creating an engaged, enthusiastic workforce.
  • Reducing turnover.
  • Increasing collaboration and innovation.
  • Driving and improving performance quality and productivity.


6 Components of a Winning Corporate Culture

According to the Harvard Business Review, there are six key characteristics of successful corporate cultures:


Vision: A vision or mission statement helps guide a company’s values and provide it with purpose. Vision statements can also help orient customers, suppliers, and stakeholders. For example, Slack’s vision statement: “Make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive.”


Values: Company values offer a set of guidelines on the behaviors and mindsets needed to achieve the company vision. Early on, Google established its values — “Ten things we know to be true.” — to guide the company in the right direction.


Practices: Practices are how values are reinforced and carried out in daily life. For example, Patagonia is a leader in many ways on employee benefits and care, including its stance on family benefits.


People: A company needs people who share and embrace its core values to construct a coherent culture. If employees don’t take on the company’s vision, values, and practices, then the culture doesn’t truly exist.


Narrative: Every company should unearth and tell its unique story as a part of its cultural creation. Having a shared story and heritage can help employees feel more invested in the company and provide a greater meaning to the work they do every day.


Place: How the office is set up is a critical aspect of corporate culture, whether in-person or remote. Open office setups, for example, encourage collaboration. Flexible hours in remote working can demonstrate a more relaxed work culture.

Two professionals working in an office.

8 Ways to Create a Winning Corporate Culture

After clearly defining and sharing the six components above, you can take the following steps to foster your winning corporate culture.


8. Ask Your Employees

What do your employees love about the company? Or, how do they envision an ideal company culture? Gathering employee feedback is a great first step in creating a thriving corporate culture and knowing what aspects of your current organizational brand to highlight or update.


Anthony Rodio, President and CEO of YourMechanic, did one-on-one interviews with each employee when he started his company. He asked what they thought should change and how they would propose to solve the problems they were seeing.


“Give your employees the space to express their observations, and then ask them to create solutions. In my experience, this can lead to greater transparency, trust and self-determination that creates a sense of ownership in their roles.”


7. Take Inspiration from Other Companies

The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch when building a winning team culture. Consider companies you admire. What sets them apart? How do they convey their values and practices? This can help create a strategy for fostering your team culture.


6. Start on Day One

Instilling company culture right from the start is critical for new employees’ success. From providing all the necessary tools on their first day to having a thorough onboarding plan, taking the time to really embed employees in the company culture can create more engaged employees down the line. For example, providing a roadmap that shows what success looks like during the first week, month, quarter, six months, and one year will help them manage expectations and have personal goals to work toward.


5. Highlight, Reward, and Recognize

Everyone wants to feel like a valued part of the team. Explaining to employees how their work helps the overall organization succeed can help them feel a sense of belonging.


One team exercise that can help employees feel valued is to ask them to share their top three strengths and how they’ve put them into action at work. When you see these strengths being demonstrated, you can share them with the team to highlight what individual employees bring to the table and how they are a uniquely valued part of the organization.


In addition, recognizing employees publicly on a regular basis will help employees celebrate wins. Whether you share employee stories and successes in monthly all-team meetings or send out an email or chat weekly with some team highlights, employees will feel noticed and inspired.

Two female professionals discussing how to create a winning corporate culture.

4. Encourage Professional Growth

Motivate your employees to continue their growth within the company by establishing a culture of continuous learning. Whether that means encouraging employees to level up their skills with online courses or hosting in-person “lunch and learns,” helping employees train and upskill adds value to the company and prevents employees from getting bored.


3. Implement Internal Communications

From an email newsletter to regular town hall meetings, maintaining consistent contact with employees about the company goals and expectations, working environment, and employees’ roles in company success will help keep everyone in the loop and engaged.


For example, international transportation company Stagecoach implemented an employee experience app for its 20,000 bus and retail employees that features access to organizational news, peer communication channels, training, and policy information. Employees can also use the app to provide feedback. The company has said that the award-winning app has increased employee engagement across the business and is a valuable internal communications tool.


2. Practice What You Preach

Leadership needs to model the ideal team culture in order to be an example for employees. Implementing a team culture is a collaborative process starting with leadership showing the way and guiding employees to the ideal team culture whenever possible.


If you or your leadership team needs some upskilling to implement the team culture, it may be a good idea to enroll in some courses to elevate your organization’s leadership capabilities. From emotional intelligence to effective communication, USF offers a variety of leadership and management online courses that can help nurture current and future leaders.


1. Update Culture as Needed

Corporate culture needs to change over time. As employee needs and demographics change, so will the best ways to increase employee job satisfaction. For example, suppose your organization switched to remote work during the pandemic. In that case, you may need to create more regular touch-base meetings to check in on employees since casual check-ins that happen in the office won’t be as likely to occur.


Everyone Wins with a Winning Corporate Culture

Employees and leadership both benefit when it comes to creating a winning corporate culture. From increasing engagement to growing job satisfaction, implementing effective HR principles is key to cultivating a great place to work.


If you’re looking to become a change-maker in your organization, USF’s HR certificate courses provide professionals the ability to transition to an HR role or advance in their current position. Gain the essential HR skills you need to champion a winning corporate culture.


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