5 Mistakes You Are Making About Company Culture

Company Culture is a hot topic right now. Everyone from Tony Hsieh to Arianna Huffington has their opinion on it.
But what does company culture actually mean? I could give you 100 different definitions (well, 14,600 to be precise) of what company culture is.

But instead, I’d rather give you 5 things that people think constitutes company culture, that are wildly off the mark:

“Company Culture is just about perks and benefits”

Perks are great. I mean who doesn’t love a table football table?

Fully comped wedding? Yes please! Pets in the office? Sounds purrfect. Free booze? Wineot?

Of course, those things are nice, but these perks are too often used to bribe people to do meaningless work they don’t want to do.

Instead, companies should focus on getting their employees to focus on work they truly find rewarding.

As Ted Talker Dan Pink cites, giving workers employees autonomy, mastery, and purpose is far more beneficial than installing a nicer coffee machine.

“A good company culture is when everyone goes to the pub after work”Company Culture

Company culture isn’t just about colleagues becoming best friends. What’s just as important as friendships is putting people in environments in which they can do their best work.

For some, an environment where people can blow off steam at the end of the week by going to the pub is exactly what they love. For others, it’s having the security of a well paid pension, or a flexible work schedule to fit in with the school run. Homogenized teams lead to a lack of diversity and office cliques that become unproductive and hard to break up.

In order to thrive, colleagues don’t need to see each other outside of work. They don’t even need to like each other. Some people thrive under the kind of tension that a friendship wouldn’t allow, and this is their ideal work environment. What is important is that everyone finds their cultural fit.

“Hiring for cultural fit is just an excuse to discriminate”

Nope. So much nope. This is probably the biggest misnomer about company culture and hiring for cultural fit. Don’t get us wrong, people do this. Far too much. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hire for cultural fit without being discriminatory.

Culture is about a singularity of values, not a singularity of backgrounds.

Think about the questions you ask at an interview, or other means of justifying cultural fit hiring:

  • “Does this candidate work in the same way as the team”, not: “did they go to the same school as me?”.
  • “Do they want the same things for the company?” not: “what football team do they support?”.
  • “Do they prefer to work with individual targets, or team goals?” not: “how many pints can they handle?”

This is why are proud to be developing an objective culture fit assessment tool called ThriveMap™ that focuses on aligning ways of working, not a subjective “gut feeling” from an interview.

Company Culture


“Company culture is expensive”

Company Culture

Culture isn’t defined by how much you spend on your employees, it’s how you make your employees feel.Some of the best cultures we know are scrappy, they’re not spending money on company holidays or celebrity laden Christmas parties. 

At the end of the day though you can’t afford not to invest in it! Whether it’s with money, effort or time. Investing in culture lowers your cost per hire, increases employee retention and allows people to be more productive.

More productive staff, cheaper cost per hire, increased productivity, decreased churn rate, hell, the ROI from employer branding alone makes it worth it. 

“Company Culture is just an internal issue”

Company culture can be used to attract external talent as well as creating happier and more productive employees. Having a great culture but no employer brand is like hosting a dinner party with no guests. It’s like having the world’s greatest DJ play to an empty club. It’s like rain on your wedding day. (Wait, no, that’s something else). It’s a wasted opportunity so you’ll need to promote it externally too!

Let the world know about how great a place you are to work. Not only will it force you to sit down and focus on your culture, but companies that have a demonstrably good culture save up to 43% on hiring.

Workers, and increasingly millennials, have begun to rate company culture above all else when it comes to finding a place to work. Flood social media with culture content – post those selfies. Why would you put yourself at a disadvantage to other companies, even though you have a great culture?


For an objective measure of the culture of a team, rather than an organisation, check out ThriveMap

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