The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures

I believe we are living through one of the best times in the history of work. Thanks to the advancement in technology and instant access to information, our generation has a greater sense of empathy, ethics, and values. In the past, job seekers would be looking for a place that would pay them well and give them good benefits.

Now, job seekers are looking for organizations that have great cultures. Companies need to offer individuals a sense of belonging and a mission to accomplish something remarkable. With no culture, an organization, is not sustainable in the 21st century.

I have come up with five elements that are essential to building and sustaining great organizational cultures. Those elements are: purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership.


ethics and empathy

Going back to the premise that we have a greater sense of ethics and empathy. We are less selfish, and we want to be a part of solving a problem greater than ourselves. We need to understand the why of what we do.

Companies now need to have a strong mission statement where they can share the why with their team members. A great example that comes to mind is SpaceX, a company that builds rockets for space exploration.

This is their mission statement: “SpaceX was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” Now… that’s a mission statement! That’s something bigger than anybody.


workplace meeting

The second element in building a great organizational culture is ownership. Ownership is about giving people the opportunity to be accountable for their results without being micromanaged. Giving people the autonomy over their time to accomplish their goals. Basecamp is a company that builds software for project management.

They are a great example of a company that promotes ownership. They have an office in Chicago, but everyone has the chance to work from wherever they want. The CEO doesn’t know how many hours his employees work.

They just set expectations and give people the opportunity to build their own schedules around their projects. But how do you keep people engaged with a sense of purpose? Well, you do that through the third element, community.


Community at workplace

Community is that sense of belonging to a group of people that shares the same or similar principles, goals, and values. Community is a place where there is camaraderie. Focus Lab is a branding and design agency that understands community.

They have company standards instead of values. Their argument is that you can’t change a person’s values when they walk into your company, but you can uphold everyone to specific standards. Some of their standards are: work to live, ask more questions, and never stop learning. The culture of their company breaths these standards through their work.

Building community is something as simple as having lunch and learns, hangout times on Fridays, and company trips. It varies from company to company. Community, is unique to each organization.

Effective Communication

Effective Communication

The fourth element in building a great organizational culture is effective communication. Effective communication sounds like common sense, but through my work I have realized it is not common practice. It means consistency in processes and investing time learning the personalities and communication dynamics of team members.

Google created a research project called Project Aristotle, where they found that the most collaborative teams are the ones where everyone speaks equally. In many of their engineering teams they have a list with checkmarks to make sure everyone is speaking the same number of times during their meetings.

Good Leadership


I would say this is the backbone of the cultural dynamics of any organization. The leader has to be constantly be pushing the mission, standards, community, and processes of the company.

Without effective leadership the other four elements cannot thrive. People want leadership with integrity and compassion. People want authenticity. People want a leader who is clear on expectations. People want to know they have a leader who cares about them.

The elements I just mentioned are not new to people. People have always liked purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership. It’s in our own human nature. But now we found words to describe those things to build high performing cultures. I would like to encourage each of you to be intentional about applying these elements, and building great cultures in your organizations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a company measure employee happiness and satisfaction? Companies can measure employee happiness through surveys, feedback sessions, and performance reviews. Regular check-ins and anonymous feedback tools also provide insights into employee satisfaction.

Are there any specific training programs to improve employee morale?

Yes, training programs focused on team-building, communication skills, and stress management can significantly improve employee morale. Leadership training for managers on how to create a positive work environment is also beneficial.

Can flexible working hours contribute to employee happiness?

Absolutely. Flexible working hours allow employees to balance work and personal life better, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced stress levels.

What role does workplace diversity play in employee satisfaction?

A diverse workplace fosters an inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and respected, contributing to higher job satisfaction and a positive company culture.

How important is career development in retaining employees?

Career development is crucial for retention. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their growth through training, promotion opportunities, and clear career pathways.

Can implementing health and wellness programs improve employee productivity?

Yes, health and wellness programs like gym memberships, mental health days, and wellness workshops can improve overall employee well-being, leading to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.

What impact does corporate social responsibility (CSR) have on employee engagement?

Engaging in CSR activities can boost employee morale and loyalty as they feel part of a company that contributes positively to society and aligns with their personal values.