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GuidesEmployee experience131 words to describe your work culture (and why it matters)

131 words to describe your work culture (and why it matters)

Last updated

27 September 2023


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Lara Leganger

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What is work culture?

The way that a company's employees work together as a team to achieve a goal, inclusive of their attitudes and behaviors, is called work culture or company culture. Culture is in daily interactions. It can skew positively or negatively. 

According to a 2022 MIT Sloan Management Review report, negative company culture is 10.4 times more likely to lead to an employee quitting. However, company culture is changeable when leaders take the time to assess problems within the culture and make necessary changes.

Why is company culture crucial?

A strong work culture is integral to performance, customer service, and employee retention. A company will perform better with employees who are happy to be at work and feel appreciated. People are willing to stay longer when the work culture is inclusive and rewarding. Higher morale increases productivity and efficiency, which will also enhance customer service.

Keys to building a compelling company culture

If your company's work culture could improve, here are four actions you can take immediately.

  1. Start now: It doesn't matter how big or small your company is. The best time to start is now. Sometimes, leaders mistakenly believe that their organization isn’t large enough to worry about company culture, but that’s a misconception. For instance, it isn't the number of people that creates a toxic work environment—it’s the interactions between the people. If you’re looking for a place to start, try bringing your employees in to talk candidly about what is and isn’t working. Anonymous online surveys can also help people open up and be more forthcoming with sharing their opinions and feedback.

  2. Find a goal: After a clear view of what is going well in the company and what is lacking, use that data to build the foundation for your new and improved workplace culture. To understand boundaries and start working towards your goals, ask yourself: How do you want your employees to feel daily? How would you want to feel? Which types of behaviors will be rewarded vs. reprimanded?

  3. Model best behavior: Acting with integrity and avoiding hypocrisy helps build employee trust and fosters a healthy environment. Do your utmost to avoid a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality and model excellence.

  4. Make progress measurable: Clarify your goals and ensure you continuously gather feedback to see what is going well and what isn't. Work culture isn’t static. It’s a living thing. Picture it like a garden that needs tending (including pulling a few weeds occasionally). Some common assessments used to measure company culture include retention rates, employee referrals, exit interviews, and balanced scorecards (BSCs).

Communication, goal-setting, mirroring the behavior you expect or hope for your employees, and beginning the process toward a better work culture are achievable. But it isn't a fast process or a one-time event. By working toward a better company culture, you ensure your company has the foundation for better customer service and employee retention.

67 positive words for work culture

Check out these sixty-seven positive descriptors that might apply to your organization’s culture:

  1. Accepting

  2. Accountable

  3. Achievement-oriented

  4. Adventurous

  5. Agile

  6. Appreciative

  7. Autonomous

  8. Balanced

  9. Place of belonging

  10. Caring

  11. Change leaders

  12. Collaborative

  13. Compassionate

  14. Connected

  15. Creative

  16. Curious

  17. Customer-focused

  18. Cutting-edge

  19. Dignified

  20. Diverse

  21. Dynamic

  22. Efficient

  23. Empathetic

  24. Empowered

  25. Encouraging

  26. Engaged

  27. Entrepreneurial

  28. Ethical

  29. Fair

  30. Feedback-rich

  31. Flexible

  32. Friendly

  33. Fun

  34. Goal-oriented

  35. Harmonious

  36. Honest

  37. Inclusive

  38. Innovative

  39. Inspiring

  40. Inviting

  41. Kind

  42. Learning

  43. Motivating

  44. Nimble

  45. Nurturing

  46. Open-minded

  47. Passionate

  48. People-focused

  49. Positive

  50. Principled

  51. Productive

  52. Progressive

  53. Recognition

  54. Resilient

  55. Respectful

  56. Results-driven

  57. Rewarding

  58. Solutions-driven

  59. Stimulating

  60. Strategic

  61. Supportive

  62. Transparent

  63. Trusting

  64. Values-oriented

  65. Visionary

  66. Virtuous

  67. Welcoming

58 negative words for work culture

There are also descriptors of work culture with inherently negative connotations. These words may reflect undesirable work culture traits: 

  1. Abusive

  2. Aimless

  3. Antagonistic

  4. Archaic

  5. Arrogant

  6. Belittling

  7. Biased

  8. Bitter

  9. Boring

  10. Bureaucratic

  11. Chaotic

  12. Cliquey

  13. Combative

  14. Controlling

  15. Critical

  16. Cutthroat

  17. Dated

  18. Deceitful

  19. Demanding

  20. Destructive

  21. Discriminatory

  22. Disrespectful

  23. Expendable

  24. Fearful

  25. Frantic

  26. Hostile

  27. Incompetent

  28. Inflexible

  29. Intense

  30. Intimidating

  31. Isolating

  32. Machiavellian

  33. Micromanaged

  34. Negative

  35. On edge

  36. Overworked

  37. Pompous

  38. Power-hungry

  39. Restrictive

  40. Rigid

  41. Rigorous

  42. Secretive

  43. Siloed

  44. Stagnant

  45. Stressful

  46. Toxic

  47. Unappreciative

  48. Unapproachable

  49. Understaffed

  50. Unethical

  51. Unfair

  52. Uninspiring

  53. Unorganized

  54. Unproductive

  55. Unprofessional

  56. Unsafe

  57. Unsupportive

  58. Volatile

Neutral or subjective words for work culture

Some words describing work culture can be neutral or subjective, depending on the context. 

For instance, suppose your organization produces medical devices. In such a regulated industry, “structured” might be a positive and appropriate adjective. However, if you run a graphic design agency, “structured” might imply a lack of creative freedom.

Here are five more adjectives that might be neutral or very context-dependent

  • Hierarchical

  • Established

  • Predictable

  • Formal

  • Traditional 

What is a company culture statement?

Also known as "culture code," a company culture statement is a point of reference that captures various aspects of the organization’s culture. A company culture statement often includes its mission statement, company history, code of ethics, and other information.  

Examples of company culture statements

Here are two culture statements from well-known global companies:

"Our mission is what drives us to do everything possible to expand human potential. We do that by creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainable, by building a creative and diverse global team and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work." — Nike

"All work and no play? No way! We come together at more than just meetings. In fact, there's a fun get-together on the calendar every month, including our annual Halloween bash and costume contest, and take your children to work day. Sometimes you can even catch a live band on the roof at our Hollywood headquarters." — Ticketmaster

Exploring the essence of your work culture and putting it into words is a cornerstone for success. Remember, a thriving work culture isn't just a reflection of your company; it's the heartbeat that propels it toward excellence and innovation.


What’s the best example of work culture?

One of the best examples of a great work culture is Google. They are year-over-year winners of Comparably’s Best Company Culture Award (2023, 2022). Forbes recently unpacked 13 critical aspects of Google’s work culture that make them worthy, notably Flexibility, Freedom To Be Creative, Fun Environment, People And Their Expertise, Dog-Friendly, Shared Values, Innovation Trust, Alignment With Employees' Wants And Needs, Growth And Improvement Mindset, Focus On Employee Happiness, 'Radical Candor,' and Clarity of Purpose.

What makes a good boss and a good work culture?

A good boss exhibits empathy, clear communication, and fair leadership. They empower employees, foster growth, and provide constructive feedback. A good work culture fosters respect, collaboration, and open dialogue. It encourages diversity, work-life balance, and recognition of individual contributions, ultimately promoting a thriving, motivated workforce.

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