A Note on Company Culture

As startups grow and begin to hire new employees., they need to answer a popular question being asked in the workplace today, “what is our company culture going to be”? The movie, The Internship starring Vince Vaughn provides a great visual to the world of what the company culture at Google looks like. Although the movie is a slight exaggeration of what it would be like to work for Google, in all reality, it is not uncommon at Google to see “Googlers” playing outdoor volleyball, eating lunch for free in the cafeteria, or riding the famous Google bikes around campus. But, company culture doesn’t just rely on amenities. Great company culture can be found in all businesses—big or small.

WHAT IS COMPANY CULTURE?

According to Investopedia the definition of corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Business culture is just as much about the internal as the external. The way your internal team feels and interacts with your company will lead to the way stakeholders, end users,  and customers also feel about your brand or company.

Company Culture

TYPES OF COMPANY CULTURE

There are several types of company cultures that can be effective for your brand. Once a culture type is adopted it can be changed to another, this decision should not be a permanent one. For example, when a company first starts out it may be that the owners are the ones completing all work tasks, and as the company grows it may need to adopt a different strategy altogether, as ownerships roles change.

It is important to know that once a type of culture is adopted it can be tweaked, changed or combined with other types until you find what works best for you or your brand.

TEAM-FIRST CORPORATE CULTURE

Netflix is a great example of team-fist corporate culture. They share information openly across all teams to encourage goals being met across the company.  They offer both flexibility and a level of autonomy to ensure employee happiness. For example, Netflix gives employees a full year of unlimited family leave.

ELITE CORPORATE CULTURE

If your company encourages each employee to think outside of the box, and push the boundaries of status quo on a daily basis, you work in an Elite corporate culture. Innovation and forward thinking are expected and employees aim to become trailblazers in their industry.

HIERARCHY/TRADITIONAL CORPORATE CULTURE

When organizations follow corporate procedures to ensure results, they are considered a hierarchy or traditional corporate culture. Bureaucratic organizations like Department of Motor Vehicles are an example of hierarchy culture. Not many risks will be taken in this model because the bottom line is always the highest priority.

HORIZONTAL CORPORATE CULTURE

Many start ups adopt horizontal corporate culture in their infancy stages. It is a culture that is flexible and everyone pitches in—collaboration is imperative. 

CLAN CULTURE

Small companies and start-ups commonly choose this “family-like” atmosphere. Since there are fewer layers of management between employees and management communication tends to be more informal.


In the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, Costner is contacted by spirits that lead him to build a baseball diamond in his fields. One of the famous lines form the movie is, “if you build it they will come”.  Unfortunately business like Google didn’t just erect a building and people miraculously wanted to work there. Instead, they worked hard to determine their company culture and who they were.

Here are some tips  to develop your own company culture:

  1. Invite staff to join you. Don’t try to become part of their life—instead invite them in to be a part of yours

  2. Schedule team bonding activities frequently

  3. Provide Free training and structure bonuses around completing certain trainings

  4. Foster social connections

  5. Encourage staff to work with impact projects

  6. Put an emphasis on employee wellness

  7. Provide meaning and autonomy


Building a unique, positive culture within and outside the walls of your business is one of the best ways to get your employees to invest their talent and future with your company.

Helpful links: 

How to create a mission statement

How to define company values


This article was written by Deanna Miller; Chief Culture Officer at ARM Creative. For questions about company culture, please email her at deanna@arm-creative.com.