What is Workplace Culture?

What is Workplace Culture: Understanding Organizational Dynamics’ Fundamental

People often wonder what culture in the workplace is and what it means. A workplace’s identity, values, and operational dynamics are shaped by its culture. It comprises all of the same behaviors, attitudes, convictions, and cultural norms that workers in an organization share. The invisible element influences decision-making processes, encourages employee engagement, and ultimately determines the company’s success. It is possible to have a subculture within any organization, which can generally be affected and influenced by front-line and mid-level leaders. An organization’s culture is often a reflection of the leadership within that organization. So, what is culture in business? It is how leaders behave, what they say and do, and how their message is received.

How Does Culture Impact a Business?

Understanding the impact culture has on a business and what it does is necessary. Culture creates policies, sets the tone for employee interactions, and affects the overall work environment. A positive and encouraging work environment promotes creativity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction, all of which increase productivity and retention rates. On the other hand, a toxic or dysfunctional culture can lower productivity, promote discontent, and damage the business’s reputation.

Understanding the Components: What is Culture in the Workplace?

Beliefs and Values: At Echelon Front, we believe that Culture is the ultimate form of Decentralized Command — Decentralized Command simply means everyone leads. We’re empowering our people and teams to make decisions within their parameters. In order for Decentralized Command to work, our people have to understand the mission, goal, and end state. Building out people’s decision space is a critical part of business culture. Other key factors that can help build out decision space are roles/responsibilities and expectations. From there, we tie in the “Why” and explain why we’re doing what we’re doing.

It’s also equally important to identify our businesses’ beliefs and values, which can help direct peoples’ actions and choices. Honesty, Integrity, humility, respect, excellence, ownership, and teamwork are just a few examples of values. Business beliefs can include the following:

  • Belief in taking calculated risks to seize opportunities for growth and innovation.
  • Belief in continuous improvement–we know humans are not perfect, let’s identify our mistakes and learn from them to grow.
  • Belief in the importance of being adaptable to changes in the market, technology, and consumer preferences so we can adjust to stay ahead of changing conditions.

Solid values and beliefs help build good parameters and guardrails that allow people at every level to make decisions. This, along with the goal and vision, builds out both people’s decision space and the direction to move towards. Then people will be able to identify: “Here are the decisions I can make based on those goals, beliefs, and values.” The vision gives people a North Star; that’s the direction we’re moving towards.

Norms and Behaviors: The norms and behaviors that are supported and valued inside the company also have an impact on workplace culture. This covers methods of problem-solving, job ethics, and communication styles. In order to promote cultural norms and model these behaviors, leaders must walk their talk and lead by example, which will ensure the team sees the correct way to conduct business.

Leadership Style: Leaders’ behaviors have a big impact on the culture of the organization. Effective leaders cultivate trust, empower people, and promote a culture of accountability and continuous improvement. They also need to be the first to understand the importance of workplace culture and its impact fully. Leaders should uphold the organization’s values and goals, serving as role models for employees at all levels. When we look at leaders’ behaviors, we’re looking at the basic leadership skills to be effective in leadership positions:

  • How do we communicate with people?
  • Do we listen and understand our people’s perspectives?
  • How do we handle shifting priorities in a resource-constrained environment?
  • How do we handle bad news?
  • How do we develop and coach low performers?
  • Are we holding ourselves accountable as leaders when things go wrong?

If we do all of the above correctly and consistently, we will be modeling good practices that our people can emulate.

Nurturing a Positive Workplace Culture

Leadership and staff must make a conscious effort and show dedication to creating and maintaining a healthy workplace culture; thus, it is necessary that they understand the significance of their role in creating a strong workplace culture. The following are some methods to promote a strong and healthy culture.

Lead by Example: Leaders at every level need to model the correct attitude and behaviors they expect from their team. When people see what right looks like from their leaders, they will be inspired to do the same thing. Good leaders set the standard for respectful relationships, good teamwork, and empowering others to succeed, and they hold themselves accountable when things are off track. Leaders reinforce the values, move towards the vision, and tackle the mission in a safe, legal, and ethical way.

Encourage Open Communication: Provide transparent and open lines of communication so that team members may freely express their thoughts, worries, and suggestions. This encourages inclusivity and teamwork, which stimulates creativity and problem-solving. When a team member provides feedback, a good leader listens to truly understand their perspective. Good leaders set a culture where team members know their boss is approachable and available to speak with.

Acknowledgment and Reward: Acknowledgement promotes a culture of appreciation and recognition by encouraging workers to perform well and reinforcing desired behaviors. Acknowledging someone’s good work doesn’t always have to be in a formal setting. This is something we can do in a team meeting “Johnny & Theresa, that was an exceptional job on this past project. Thank you for all your hard work. You set the standards super high. This is exactly the teamwork we need in our business in order to be successful.” Or, 1-1 conversations, “Johnny, thanks for your hard work on this project, I know you spent a lot of time to get this correct and worked a ton of extra hours to get this over the finish line, I really appreciate this and respect what a hard worker you are.” These small acknowledgments, in the correct setting, can oftentimes mean more to someone or the team than some kind of monetary or trophy reward.

Invest in Employee Development: Offer chances for professional development, skill enhancement, and personal enrichment. Putting money into the training and development of your people shows a dedication to their success and well-being, in addition to improving individual performance. Carving time in your schedule to sit down with your team members to outline the next steps in their career path can be very beneficial, too. Your time invested in this person will speak volumes about how much you care about them and how much you want them to succeed. The bonus with this is that you’re outlining precisely what this person should do to increase their education, qualifications, and knowledge in order to meet the next position’s requirements for advancement.

Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage a good balance between work and home life while honoring the time and priorities of employees. Wellness initiatives and flexible work schedules all help to increase employee happiness and retention. Good leaders will model this as well, and they will show people that it’s okay to take vacation time with your family and take a day off to go see your child’s recital at school or a sporting event. By taking some time off, the leader is showing people what a balanced lifestyle looks like, and they’re also entrusting their team to make decisions in their absence. This can be a great opportunity for people to step up and lead.


In summary, workplace culture is critical to a business’s success since it affects all facets of employee performance, satisfaction, and engagement. By comprehending and cultivating a good culture, organizations may establish a dynamic work environment where workers feel appreciated, inspired, and empowered to give their best efforts.

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