What is Organisational Culture?

Organisational culture

Organisational culture

What is organisational culture and why is it important?

Organisational culture is the key to business success. It shapes attitudes and behaviours within an organisation. A healthy culture focuses on keeping both employees and customers happy. The better the Company culture, the better people will perform.

Many theorists have researched culture over the years and have set out to define what it is. Elliot Jacques first introduced by the concept of culture in the organisational context in his 1951 book The Changing Culture of a Factory. The book was a published report of “a case study of developments in the social life of one industrial community between April 1948 and November 1950”. The “case” involved a publicly held British company engaged principally in the manufacture, sale, and servicing of metal bearings. The study concerned itself with the description, analysis, and development of corporate group behaviours.

Then in 1979, organisational culture was first introduced and portrayed as a learnt behaviour. Meaning that employees learn from the organisation and manifest those key elements. It’s established that culture is something that an organisation holds, that their employees “buy” into and in turn contributes to their belonging in that business (Schneider and Barbera, 2014). With the idea that employees have a ‘sense of belonging’ to an organisation, the presumption was that individual’s identity connects with organisational culture, which is really what was initially introduced back in 1979 with learnt behaviour!

Individual identity and organisational culture are said to coincide with each other, for an organisation’s culture consists of the values and beliefs that guide the behaviours of managers and those within an organisation (Thomas, 2009).

So, how do YOU spot bad organisational culture? It’s a question that many ask themselves, but here are some key points from us:

  • No defined core values
  • Managers don’t follow the core values
  • Managers aren’t ‘bought’ into the idea of change (we all know to grow a business, change is inevitable!)
  • A high rate of turnover
  • A bad reputation
  • Employees are often absent
  • A large amount of office gossip
  • Employees aren’t acknowledged or rewarded
  • Employees who don’t take lunch breaks, or regularly work nights and/or weekends

There are several values to organisational culture. These values can help to determine how healthy and how well a company thrives. Take a look at some of those we feel are key:

  • Wellbeing
  • Communication
  • Operations
  • Recognition
  • Environment
  • Leadership
  • Trustworthiness

And what could some of those benefits be to you and your organisation could be?

  • Increased employee retention
  • Better company image
  • Increase efficiency
  • Improved teamwork
  • Employee loyalty
  • Job satisfaction
  • Employee morale

How can you improve your culture? There are many ways to do this, and they need to be thought out, accurately and strategically. A half-hearted attempt could cause a greater detrimental impact to your organisation than doing nothing at all. Here are some key ideas.

  • Establish your core value!
  • Make your vision visible to your employees
  • Share your knowledge
  • Emphasise employee wellness
  • Measure employee engagement
  • Weekly management/staff meetings
  • Offer career paths
  • Encourage teamwork and positivity
  • Flexible working

The biggest mistake organisation’s make is letting their culture form naturally and hoping it will help, run an awareness course. Yes, these may help you understand culture, but it won’t change your culture or make a difference, unless those that want the change, execute it.

Culture mostly starts from the top, therefore for culture to change it needs to come from those running the organisation. Leaders need to be bought into making the culture changes. This isn’t just managers; we mean those employees that may be leading others within the organisation but don’t necessarily have the title.


Communication is key. Communicating to your staff and explaining the changes that the organisation is planning to take. Changing the culture will be difficult and will need to be planned and implemented without rushing. Do not make all your changes at once, take a one step approach, formulate a plan and share this with your employees. Ensure you phase in the new changes slowly to give people time to adapt. Lastly, don’t expect that all staff will automatically buy into your corporate culture even after it’s been implemented and established. these types of changes take an increasing amount of time and effort, not everyone can adapt and cope with change. Take time with your employees and be there to explain when it’s needed.

We know how hard and time-consuming cultural change can be, but we also know, if done correctly have beneficial and satisfyingly rewarding it can make you all feel. If you need help or advise, please do get in touch. We will be more than happy to help.







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