Every company has an inherent culture, but only the strongest and most successful ones have a culture that is built on structure, strategy, and purpose. At the forefront of that movement; of shaping a purpose-led company culture, are HR professionals who are constantly having to conflate the human element of the workforce and the emergence of new technologies.

While the principles and beliefs that build a culture might be everlasting, a company’s culture in itself is very dynamic. In fact, a corporate culture should never be in a fixed state. Evolution is always important, especially when staying relevant and current. Given that there are constant changes in a company’s demographics, technology, industrial developments, and other factors, a workplace culture should also change and adapt with the times. The way that you structure your company’s corporate culture is going to determine various aspects of the way your organization functions. A company culture can drive brand strength, efficiency, productivity, employee morale, and customer engagement. 

HR is in the unique position of being able to strongly influence and shape a company’s workplace culture. It all starts with the actual recruitment process wherein HR professionals select applicants who are most likely to thrive within that culture. Beyond just recruitment, HR is also responsible for drafting orientation and training programs that are designed to reinforce the company’s core principles within the workforce. Given that company culture plays a very important role in organizational success, HR professionals should take it upon themselves to live up to the responsibilities of cultivating a culture that is both structured and purposeful.

Defining Organizational Culture

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The problem that a lot of novice HR professionals may face is not necessarily understanding the nuances of organizational culture. In order for you to strictly enforce, shape, or influence the ideal company culture, it’s important that you understand the way that it is manifested in your company as a whole. Of course, this can be very difficult as culture can be a very subjective matter. A cultural implement for one company might not necessarily be present in another. This means that cultural manifestations aren’t always going to be consistent in every single company. However, given that, there are certain foundational elements and belief systems within a company that are indicative of its culture.


First of all, one of the biggest determinants of a company’s culture is its overall view on humanity. As individual human beings, every single person carries a unique ideology. It’s the same with businesses and companies as well. Are people naturally good? Easily distracted? Team players? Motivated? The answers to these questions are all indicative of how the company is going to engage with both its internal and external stakeholders. Whether it be in-house employees, potential investors, or even customers, a company’s culture can influence how the organization interacts with all of these individual elements.

Community Impact

Next, there is the matter of how the company sees itself fitting in within its own community. There are some companies who consider their own social and environmental impact to be tied into the very essence of their existence. There are also other companies who don’t value community impact as much as internal affairs. That’s all fine. These are all manifestations of culture and ideology as well, and they tie very much into how a company might structure its business processes.

Emotional Identity

After that, there is a company’s emotional identity. Yes, it is possible for some companies to exude a very robotic and traditionally professional workplace culture. In this case, it would be a culture that is as devoid of emotions as possible. However, there are also a lot of emerging companies, especially young and energetic startups, that embrace emotionality and thrive off it. For example, with the way Apple designs their stores with large open spaces and predominantly white tones, they always exude a sense of openness, freshness, and energy. Shaping a company’s emotional identity is a huge part of workplace culture and it can dramatically impact the tone of a working environment.

Standards of Success

Lastly, you must also consider the company’s standards of success. Earlier, it was mentioned that some companies value social and environmental impact to the way that they conduct business. To these companies, their metrics for success must always coincide to the kind of impact that they have on their communities. For other companies, success might be seen in the acquisition of market share. Some companies might find success in the growth of their assets. Whatever the case, a company’s standards of success is also going to be a key indicator in defining organizational culture.

The Difficulty of Shaping Company Culture

Again, a corporate culture can be manifested in a number of different ways. There isn’t necessarily going to be a cultural bible that can be used as reference in drafting or shaping workplace culture. In fact, culture might often be seen as a very arbitrary concept and an undefined aspect of a company’s structure. Even academically, there are going to be differing views on what company culture is and what it should look like. This has made it very difficult for HR professionals to create and sustain a purpose-led company culture. 

There are indeed many elements that compose organizational culture within any given company. This is why it should come to no one’s surprise that many companies succumb to a lack of having any structured manifestation or framework that enforces an ideal purpose-led culture. Sure, there are a number of buzzwords that get thrown out there a lot when trying to define a company’s culture like innovative, aggressive, contemporary, socially conscious, results-driven, process-oriented, and high-risk to name a few. However, when there are no actual structures or policies in place that enforce such elements of culture, then it all becomes academic. Companies like Apple, Google, or Tesla didn’t just brand themselves as innovators without backing it up through their work and results. To elaborate further, Google didn’t just declare to the whole world that it’s composed of a team of highly creative innovators. They acted on it by establishing Google Campuses around the world that are notorious for serving as creative hubs and havens for young innovators and thought leaders. It’s not just about how a company describes themselves. It’s more about the way that they conduct themselves in their business processes and engagements.

HR’s Role in Shaping Company Culture

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Strategic Recruitment

It all starts with strategic recruitment. Sometimes, building the right company culture is just a matter of recruiting the right people. This means that HR professionals should be looking into the nuances of their prospective talent’s personalities and traits. More than just being technically brilliant, they must also possess certain traits that will allow them to thrive within the framework of a company’s ideal culture.

Team Training

After recruitment, there is team training. Sometimes, acquiring the right talent is not enough. It’s also a matter of making sure that onboarding protocols and training programs are in place to fully orient team members on workplace culture. These training programs can be technical or non-technical in nature. Whatever the case, they should be designed to fully expose team members on a company’s culture as defined or set by its leadership. 

Performance Management Programs

Another way that HR can help shape company culture is in its performance management protocols for its employees. Ultimately, as HR professionals, it’s your job to make sure that you place your employees in the best possible position to succeed. It should be common knowledge that a work environment that fails to uphold cohesive and structured standards of performance can expect suboptimal performance from its workers. So, HR professionals can help enforce more purposeful working habits by implementing proper feedback prompts and protocols on their individual performance. This way, employees always know what they’re doing wrong and what they’re doing right.

Incentive Programs

Incentives can be manifested in a number of different ways. Bonuses. Rewards. Raises. Promotions. Recognitions. Whatever the case, these are all tools for motivation and can dramatically help drive company culture. Whatever incentive programs your HR team decides to put in place is going to say a lot about what your company values. You can incentivize for boosts in productivity, output, loyalty, and morale to name a few!

Employee Feedback

Lastly, HR should take employee feedback more seriously, especially when it comes to the effects of workplace culture. More than just enforcing rules and policies, HR should also be at the forefront of stimulating conversation and listening to company employees. Sure, a corporate culture is often set by leadership and management. However, it’s those who are working on the grassroots who feel and experience the effects of this culture firsthand. This is why it’s important to get their feedback systematically. This way, management is always updated on the effects of whatever direction that they set for their team. 

Final Thoughts

A company’s corporate culture is heavily tied into that business’s likelihood for success. Having a sound corporate culture in place could spell the difference between having your company recruit top talent or not. Culture can determine overall organizational success on a more fundamental and sustainable level by boosting employee productivity and morale. At the end of the day, the best kind of corporate culture is one that brings a company closer to its goals. This is why HR professionals should be taking it upon themselves to be constantly reassessing how their policies and frameworks are shaping their organization’s workplace culture. After all, HR should always be at the forefront of establishing and reworking the company’s culture so that it always stays relevant and adaptive to the calls of industry.


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