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20 Words To Describe Company Culture (Including 10 to Describe Yours)

Dec 16, 2020

Group of happy three friends in casual wear standing and laughingWhether you're the CEO, a mid-level manager, or an HR professional, understanding and communicating the company culture in your workplace is essential. 

A positive company culture attracts top talent, increases productivity and engagement, and ensures that employees remain happy and loyal.

A negative company culture culture—on the other hand—leads to low employee engagement, a lack of empathy, higher rates of absences, and increased turnover.

So, if you could describe your company culture in one word, what would it be?

Words to describe a positive company culture

Here are some words that are frequently used to describe a positive company culture:

1. Trustworthy (and trusting)

Without trust in the company's leadership—particularly its integrity and competence—everything else on this list will be diminished at best. If trust is not part of your company culture, that's the first thing to start repairing. The good news is, it can be repaired.

2. Focused

A focused company culture is one that goes above and beyond to make sure employees know not only the company mission but their role in fulfilling it

3. Accountable

Companies with an accountable culture encourage high performance by holding everyone to the same standard. Accountability is the standard. As a result, employees can be confident that performance matters, and no one will receive preferential treatment. 

4. Decisive

In a decisive company culture, the right decisions get made sooner rather than later. This adds to the company's credibility, not only internally but externally. For more about this topic, be sure to check out John P. Kotter's excellent book, A Sense of Urgency

5. Diverse

Diversity and inclusion are hot topics in HR, especially right now. Diverse and inclusive company cultures value diversity in all forms—age, race, gender and more. For more about diversity and inclusion, including how to make your efforts more successful, please see Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace: Insights from an Expert

6. Supportive

Among other things, a supportive culture mean one where employees receive the tools and training they need to succeed. It also means that when life happens—whether it's a hardship or a cause for celebration—employees are made to feel valued and visible.

Never miss the opportunity to lighten someone's load or celebrate their success, even if it's non-work-related. How you treat your team members during these times (hardships or celebrations) is often how they will remember and speak of your company. 

7. Welcoming

Companies with a welcoming company culture don't play games. On the contrary, they go out of their way to make new hires feel welcomed and otherwise glad they joined your team. By encouraging kindness, teamwork and empathy,  you will create a company culture where employees look forward to coming to work each day—and giving their best.

8. Fun

When the mission is clear, the whole team is connected and accountable, there is more than enough room for fun! It doesn't even have to be formal. Fun can come up naturally in the form of friendly competitions and celebrating even small successes.

9. Flexible

Flexibility and autonomy drive employee engagement and creativity. If you've hired people you trust, give them as much autonomy as they need to be successful. The key is to help them find the right balance between structure and flexibility. When you do find it, employees feel respected and empowered to give their best—and still have a life. 

10. Appreciative

Everyone at work, at every level, needs to know they will be listened to, respected, valued and recognized for their performance, especially performance that exceeds expectations. These are among the most powerful ways to show appreciation. Even day-to-day compliments for a job well done can do wonders for employee morale and performance.

Words to describe a negative company culture

Here are some words that frequently describe a negative company culture:

11. Toxic

A toxic company culture involves a negative atmosphere, gossip, recurring drama, unhappy employees and arguing—to name a few. 

12. Demanding

Demanding work cultures involve a lack of work-life balance, high stress and a lot of unnecessary pressure.

13. Unethical

A company with an unethical culture can include behaviors like sacrificing safety in the workplace, discrimination, bullying, stealing, or taking advantage of employees, management or customers.

14. Disengaged

A disengaged company culture makes for a boring, uninspired and unmotivated place to be. It  leads to low productivity, high turnover rates and a downward spiral too big to ignore.

15. Rigid

Freedom and flexibility along with innovation and creativity are what high-performing employees are looking for in company culture. A strict workplace with no room for growth or change will likely turn off the very people you need to grow your company.

16. Boring

A boring company culture is just that—boring! Employees want the work day to fly by rather than counting down the hours until the end of the day.

17. Hostile

Hostile work environments are never fun or healthy. No one wants to dread coming to work, especially if they fear for their mental or physical safety.

18. Stressful

Stress is common, but too much stress can lead to burnout; specifically, emotional, mental, and even physical health complications. Stressful environments will often lead employees to look elsewhere for work—or stay but disengage. 

19. Micromanaged

No one does their best work when they feel as though (a) they're not trusted and (b) someone is breathing down their neck, even virtually. 

20. Siloed

Siloed work cultures happen when communication and collaboration between teams and departments is lacking. This often leads to distrust and inefficiency.

Improve your company culture today

Think about the company culture at your workplace. What words would you use to describe it? More importantly, where would you most like to see your company culture improved? If you think I can help,  or would just like to find out, reach out to me directly today.


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