Types of Workplace Culture

Just like there a different cultures around the world, there are also different types of cultures in the workplace.

A strong corporate culture is a critical element for business success, influencing employee interactions, motivation, and performance, as well as impacting the company’s financial performance.

But, how do you cultivate that winning culture? What does it look like?

Different organizational cultures can be implemented based on an organization’s specific requirements and objectives for achieving success.

This article will outline distinct types of company culture, detailing their key characteristics and providing suggestions for integration into your business.

Clan Culture is a Type of Collaborative Culture

Clan culture in organizations emphasizes teamwork and creating a familial environment. Employees are encouraged to share their opinions and each individual is considered a valuable team member.

Gathering employee feedback on desired changes and perceptions of the organization’s culture is important.

An environment of high employee engagement promotes collaboration and commitment to achieving the firm’s goals, resulting in happier and more productive employees. The absence of clear leadership may present challenges.

In clan culture management, the organizational structure is horizontal, allowing teams to work autonomously without micromanagement.

Clan culture in organizations entails having rules in place, with employees choosing to adhere to them based on belief rather than obligation.

The power of clan culture shines in the cozy atmosphere of smaller start-ups and family-owned businesses. Surprisingly, even tech giants like Google embrace a touch of clan mentality in their corporate culture.


Stronger relationships among coworkers, creating a more “relaxed” environment.

Employees are allowed to provide open and honest feedback without repercussions.

High possibility for market growth due to similar company goals.

High engagement at work.


“Employee-first” mindset makes it difficult to take charge and make tough decisions.

Can hinder productivity due to too much collaboration or unnecessary chatter.

Workplaces can become too relaxed, causing employees to abandon some of their responsibilities.

Hierarchy Culture Emphasizes Control

Hierarchical structures and clan culture are two distinct workplace cultures with differing leadership structures. Clan culture is characterized by a horizontal structure, while hierarchical structures follow a vertical chain of command.

Companies with a hierarchical structure have clearly defined layers of management. This type of organization tends to have centralized control over rules and operations, with strict oversight from each layer of the hierarchy over the one below it.

In certain industries like banking and insurance, this type of organizational culture can be beneficial for productivity and success because it provides a clear sense of direction and defines the roles of each employee. This ideology is also suitable for oil and gas companies.

In contrast, industries that require innovation and creativity tend to avoid strict hierarchical structures as they may hinder the development of new ideas.


Organized and efficient work environment.

Responsibilities allocated by job level.

Clear authority and boundaries between employees.

Seamless lines of communication.

Greater sense of workplace security.


Strict, “by the book” ruling hinders creativity and flexibility.

The work environment can feel stifling and impersonal.

Less focus on employee development and well-being, which can result in quick employee turnover.

Adhocracy Culture Encourages Creativity

In the dynamic world of tech companies, adhocracy culture reigns supreme. Just like clan culture, adhocracies empower employees to innovate, take bold risks, and unleash their creativity.

Adhocracy is a culture that is well-suited for companies requiring constant innovation to stay competitive by creating new products or services.

Start-ups and tech companies benefit from attracting top talent in the market. Offering opportunities for job seekers to utilize their skills and experiences fully can make the company more appealing to potential employees.

Nike is widely recognized as a successful corporation with an adhocracy culture.


Constant innovation and growth.

Versatile and flexible work environment.

High risks can result in high rewards.

Leaders prioritize the professional development of employees.

High level of trust and support among employees.


Lack of clarity about the organization’s goals.

Work environments can be chaotic and unpredictable.

No set rules or procedures, making it difficult for some employees to adapt.

High expense fees for unsuccessful ventures.

Employees may feel pressured to come up with new, fresh ideas all the time.

Market Culture vs. Competitive Culture

In the world of market culture, the company’s success reigns supreme. Focused on delivering unbeatable results, these companies fuel a competitive spirit among employees to outperform both rivals and each other.

Within the organizational hierarchy, market culture thrives, where individuals can ascend by outperforming their peers in areas like sales and efficiency. Amazon embodies this culture with remarkable triumph.

Embracing market culture not only aligns employees with the firm’s interests but also motivates individuals to champion the company’s goals as their own. This is because it’s also in their interest to do so.

However, the competitive atmosphere can lead to an unhealthy work environment that may deter potential employees.


Employees are given bonuses and promotions for hard work.

A competitive atmosphere encourages employees to push their limits when reaching company goals.

Constant innovation to outpace the competition.


Constant competition among employees can foster a toxic work environment.

Highly competitive environments can cause stress and burnout in some employees.

Demanding workplaces can result in high turnover.

Company success is tied to employee performance.

Organizational Culture of Leadership

This organizational culture model involves having charismatic leaders at the company’s helm. Their role is to establish a defined purpose and vision for the organization and effectively communicate this vision to employees to gain commitment.

For this culture to be effective, corporate leadership must demonstrate their values through their actions and set the tone for other employees to follow.

This culture prioritizes employee development through numerous training programs and mentorship opportunities for staff in lower positions within the company.

This is because these companies tend to prioritize internal promotions over external hires.


A fast-paced environment that rewards top performers.

Provides employees with ample opportunity to develop their leadership skills.

Commitment to helping employees progress their careers.


Strict competition among employees can result in a stressful environment.

Not everyone likes being pushed to become leaders.

Put Customers First

Historically, companies have followed the approach of developing products and services before attempting to generate demand for them through marketing strategies.

Many companies are now focusing on market research to identify customer needs and adjust their operations and R&D accordingly. This process often includes conducting surveys to pinpoint gaps in the market.


A firm with a customer-first culture aims to prioritize maximizing customer satisfaction through various means.

The firm’s approach extends beyond its product offerings to include interactions between employees and customers. Xerox is a notable example of a company that recognizes the significance of person-to-person relationships in fostering customer satisfaction. By adopting this mindset, they successfully recovered their market share in the 1980s.

Trader Joe’s is a grocery store chain known for its customer-first culture, resulting in one of the highest customer satisfaction scores in the US. Employees at Trader Joe’s are dedicated to satisfying customers.


Loyal customer base.

Promotes a happier, more engaged workplace.

Fosters innovation by trying to always improve the customer experience.


Can have negative financial impacts such as always accepting returns.

Not sustainable for price-focused companies.

Role-based Culture is Important

Role-based culture is a corporate culture that focuses less on hierarchy.

In companies embracing this culture, employees’ roles and responsibilities are determined by their expertise and skills.

A role-based culture helps employees work where they excel and get things done efficiently.

This situation challenges traditional hierarchical structures by allowing an employee to take on a leadership role in a crucial project based on their expertise rather than their managerial position.


Employees take ownership of the decisions and work assigned to them.

Employees have a clear role and purpose.

Higher qualifications equal higher wages.


Employees with high qualifications can be difficult to find.

Managerial positions don’t hold much weight, which can lead to entitled employees.

Focus on Tasks is Key

Task-oriented cultures prioritize assigning tasks based on skills rather than job titles or expertise, allowing employees to take on a diverse range of responsibilities beyond their initial role.

Successful companies require employees to have a broad skill set and deep industry knowledge. They should be willing to take on a variety of tasks beyond their specific role.

Task-oriented cultures are like the supercharged engines that drive small businesses and start-ups forward, propelling them to success even with limited manpower.


Employees can carry out different tasks.

Little regard for hierarchies, so employees are treated the same regardless of position.

Employees fulfill more than one staff position, removing the need to hire additional staff (pro for the employer, con for the employee).


Employees might feel overworked and taken advantage of.

Performance might be lacking in some areas.

Purpose Culture is Important

Non-profit organizations tend to have this type of organizational culture more frequently than companies that prioritize profitability.

Employee engagement involves fostering a work culture where employees are motivated by a shared goal, which may not always be financially driven, such as promoting human rights or environmental sustainability.

Corporate Culture’s Importance

Culture plays a significant role in influencing how a business is perceived by its employees and the public. It also greatly affects the company’s internal operations and overall trajectory.

Also, having a strong culture is essential for a thriving organization. Employee experience also has a significant impact on financial performance. Companies ranked in the top 25% for employee experience show nearly double the return on sales and triple the return on assets.

Brand Image

Workplace culture plays a crucial role in reflecting a firm’s brand image and identity. A company needs to align its operations with the values it projects to maintain credibility.

Employee Attitude

An organization is shaped by the individuals who comprise it.

Research conducted by the University of Warwick demonstrates a positive correlation between employee satisfaction and productivity levels in the workplace. Happy employees are 12% more productive on average, with some reaching up to 20% higher productivity compared to the control group.

Employees who feel a sense of meaning and purpose, and whose values align with the company’s, are more likely to stay with the company and enjoy their work. They are four times more likely to have job satisfaction.

Sense of Direction

Establishing a clear direction for the company is crucial for fostering an efficient and productive organizational culture.

Creating a mission and vision statement helps companies define their core values and ensure that employee activities are in line with organizational goals.

This facilitates employees in gaining clarity on their responsibilities within the organization and helps establish a shared vision for the company’s success.

A study by IBM of over 23,000 employees revealed that those who believe their work aligns with organizational values are 50% more likely to have a positive employee experience.

Determining the most conducive culture for your company’s success is crucial and depends largely on the industry in which you work.


Organizations have the flexibility to choose from various types of cultures, providing opportunities to create cultures that enhance success.

Every company varies in its organizational culture and it is important to consider the nine different types to create an environment conducive to long-term success.

Creating a culture with defined goals and values, fostering collaboration and innovation, solving problems proactively, and prioritizing employee development and satisfaction is achievable.

Hire the Best

If your recruitment efforts are not bearing fruit, and/or you need help with an ethics audit, contact Search Masters for assistance. Our team of professionals can help you find the ideal personnel to empower your business.
Search Masters utilizes numerous online resources and tools to help you find the perfect people for your business.

Search Masters can assist you with creating job postings that could appeal to competent applicants and offer advice on assessing resumes and applications to find the ideal candidate for your business.
In addition, our assistance on interviewing skills, salary discussion tactics, and more is only a phone call away.

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