What are the 5 Elements that Create Organizational Culture?

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business world, organizational culture plays a crucial role in shaping the success and overall effectiveness of a company. It encompasses the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that define an organization and its employees. But what are the key elements that contribute to the creation of a strong and positive organizational culture?

In this article, we will explore the five essential elements that shape and define a company’s culture. From leadership and communication to employee engagement and recognition, understanding these elements is vital for any business looking to cultivate a thriving and cohesive work environment. So, if you’re ready to dive into the world of organizational culture and discover how it can impact your company’s success, read on to uncover the secrets behind building a remarkable culture that drives results.

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 An enterprise employing 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $48,000 per week, or nearly $2.5M per year, due to an inability to locate and 
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 Typical US worker is interrupted by communications technology every 10 minutes, Institute for Future and Gallup
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The five elements of organizational culture

Element 1: Values and beliefs

The foundation of any organizational culture lies in its values and beliefs. These are the guiding principles that shape the behaviors and actions of everyone within the organization. Values can include concepts such as integrity, accountability, teamwork, and innovation. They serve as a compass, providing employees with a clear direction on how they should conduct themselves. When values align with the personal beliefs of employees, it creates a sense of purpose and meaning, leading to increased job satisfaction and commitment. Organizations that clearly define their values and actively promote them in daily operations foster a culture that is aligned and focused on achieving shared goals.

Element 2: Norms and behaviors

Norms and behaviors are the unwritten rules that govern how people interact and behave within an organization. These can include expectations around punctuality, dress code, communication styles, and problem-solving approaches. Norms and behaviors are often established through socialization processes, where new employees learn and adopt the cultural norms of the organization. When norms and behaviors are positive and supportive, they create a sense of belonging and cohesion among employees. Conversely, negative or toxic behaviors can lead to a toxic culture that hampers productivity and employee morale. It is crucial for organizations to clearly define and reinforce positive norms and behaviors to create a healthy and inclusive culture.

Element 3: Symbols and language

Symbols and language are powerful tools for reinforcing and communicating organizational culture. Symbols can include logos, mission statements, office layout, and even the physical appearance of employees. They serve as visual representations of the organization’s values and identity. Language, on the other hand, encompasses the words and phrases used within the organization, including jargon and slang. The use of symbols and language can create a sense of unity and shared identity among employees. When symbols and language are aligned with the desired culture, they reinforce the organization’s values and help create a strong cultural identity.

Element 4: Rituals and ceremonies

Rituals and ceremonies are formalized events or routines that symbolize and reinforce the organization’s values and culture. These can include annual conferences, team-building activities, recognition ceremonies, or even daily rituals like morning huddles or weekly status meetings. Rituals and ceremonies provide opportunities for employees to connect, collaborate, and celebrate successes. They help strengthen the bonds between employees and create a sense of belonging. When rituals and ceremonies are integrated into the fabric of the organization, they foster a positive and engaging culture that promotes teamwork, collaboration, and employee well-being.

Element 5: Organizational Structure and Systems

The organizational structure and systems play a significant role in shaping the culture of an organization. The structure determines how authority and decision-making are distributed, while systems refer to the processes and procedures in place for various organizational functions. A hierarchical structure, for example, may promote a culture of top-down decision-making and limited employee autonomy. In contrast, a flat or decentralized structure can foster a culture of collaboration, innovation, and employee empowerment. Similarly, systems that promote transparency, open communication, and employee development contribute to a positive culture. It is essential for organizations to align their structure and systems with the desired culture to create an environment that supports employee growth and engagement.

The impact of organizational culture on employee satisfaction and performance

Organizational culture has a significant impact on employee satisfaction and performance. A positive and inclusive culture promotes employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. When employees feel valued, supported, and connected to the organization’s purpose, they are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work. A strong culture also fosters a sense of pride and loyalty, reducing turnover and attracting top talent. On the other hand, a toxic or dysfunctional culture can have detrimental effects on employee morale, productivity, and mental health. It can lead to high turnover rates, low employee engagement, and a negative reputation for the organization. Understanding the impact of organizational culture on employee satisfaction and performance is crucial for organizations to create a culture that drives success.

How to assess and shape organizational culture

Assessing and shaping organizational culture requires a systematic approach. Organizations can start by conducting culture assessments, which involve gathering feedback from employees to understand their perceptions of the current culture. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews. Analyzing the data collected allows organizations to identify strengths and areas for improvement in their culture. Once the current culture is assessed, organizations can develop strategies to shape and reinforce the desired culture. This can include aligning hiring practices with cultural values, providing training and development opportunities, and recognizing and rewarding behaviors that are in line with the desired culture. It is important to remember that shaping culture is an ongoing process that requires commitment and active participation from leaders and employees at all levels of the organization.


Organizational culture is a powerful force that shapes the success and effectiveness of a company. By understanding and nurturing the five essential elements that create organizational culture – values and beliefs, norms and behaviors, symbols and language, rituals and ceremonies, and organizational structure and systems – organizations can cultivate a remarkable culture that drives results. A positive and inclusive culture promotes employee satisfaction, engagement, and performance, while a toxic culture can have detrimental effects on employee morale and productivity. Assessing and shaping organizational culture requires a systematic approach, involving feedback from employees and developing strategies to reinforce the desired culture. By prioritizing culture, organizations can create a work environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and employee well-being, ultimately leading to long-term success.