HR’s Role in Shaping Organizational Culture

Organizational culture affects all aspects of business. When Organizational culture aligns with employees, they’re more likely to feel comfortable, supported and valued. When it comes to attracting talent and outperforming the competition, Organizational culture is a key. The culture of an organization is also one of the main reasons that almost two-third of employees stay in their job. Culture of any organization glues the workforce together and shapes a better future.

What is organizational culture?

Organizational culture is often Organizational mistaken with a mission statement, or organizational goals although both can help define Organizational culture. We define a culture as the collection of values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all members. Organizational culture relates to the structure of an organization such as a company or non-profit and the values, sociology of that organization.

Types of organizational culture

Every organization has its particular culture, with one culture typically dominating the other. The larger the organization, the greater the odds that there may be more than one culture in the organization. The best-known classification of organizational culture type is the Competing Values Framework. First introduced by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn at the University of Michigan. This Framework identified four distinct types of organizational culture. This can be beneficial for the organization, but it may also be challenging when trying to have a cohesive culture in a regionally and globally dispersed organization.

The four organizational cultures identified by Cameron and Quinn are :

1. Adhocracy culture – Dynamic, entrepreneurial Create Culture.

2. Clan culture – People-oriented, friendly Collaborate Culture.

3. Hierarchy culture – Process-oriented, structured Control Culture.

4. Market culture – Results-oriented, competitive Compete Culture.

1. Adhocracy culture

Organizations with an adhocracy culture are not inhibited by bureaucratic procedures and policies thus being flexible. The focus is on constant innovation and improvement, the pace is often extremely fast and the status quo, most of the time it works but still can be challenged. Most tech companies are driven by an ad hoc culture because it gives them the freedom to innovate. This is essential for your organization and for success in an ever-changing and highly competitive market. This is essential for your brand and your success in an ever-changing and highly competitive market. However, when startups become big tech giants organizations, an ad hoc culture will become less viable across the organization. Some functions of business units will need more structure, and going slower may be better for the organization, for example in the areas of compliance and ethics. Therefore, the culture of adhocracy can be relegated to specific units to ensure that the organization remains innovative and competitive in the market.

2. Clan culture

Clan cultures are common in family-owned businesses or business at small scale that are not hierarchical in nature. Where Employees are valued regardless of their level and environments are supportive. This culture aims to work collaboratively in teams by making sure all employees feel like equals to flourish a healthy environment within the organization with this approach employees feel comfortable providing honest and open feedback. In addition to teamwork, the focus can be on mentorship and learning, as skills and values ​​are passed down from one generation to the next. Employee engagement in this culture is generally high, leading to excellent customer service. However, the downside of this type of culture is that it is difficult to sustain as the organization grows. Operations can lack focus and fluidity as the organization grows.

3. Hierarchy culture

The hierarchy culture is a prevalent corporate culture across the globe, It is defined by structure, established procedures, and levels of authority. Employees in this culture know exactly where they are in the chain of command, who is responsible to them, to whom they report, and what the rules are. Tasks are clearly defined and operations tend to be simplified. Financial institutions, health insurance organizations and oil and gas companies have a culture of hierarchy. This type of corporate culture enables them to better manage risks, to be stable and to be operationally efficient. However, this can prevent them from being innovative, agile and responsive to sudden changes in their markets and industries. They may not have the necessary flexibility in current and future markets.

4. Market culture

Market culture is all about profit’s and staying ahead of the competition. He is results oriented with a strong external focus to ensure customer satisfaction. Innovation is critical to the success of these organizations, so there is a constant demand for them to be more creative and bring new or improved products to market before their competitors. Although this type of culture can ensure the longevity of the company, employees often get tired of the high expectations and constant demand for production. There may also be less emphasis on employee experience or satisfaction.

HR’s role in shaping culture

HR professionals play a critical role in shaping culture. According to recent studies today's HR leaders are responsible for aligning managers and employees with the aspired culture, fostering a sense of ownership for that culture and maintaining accountability throughout the organization. There it becomes important for HR leaders to model cultural values and to own their roles in fostering the desired culture. The organization’s culture manifests itself through the entire employee life cycle in the beginning from the recruitment process itself. As key influencers,HR can shapes organizational culture by following:

1. Embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

There are different opinions as to where Diversity, Inclusion and Equity should be located in the organization’s structure as part of the HR department or as a standalone unit. It depends on the capacity of the organizations and the resources available to invest in. Regardless of where its place is, HR has a role in ensuring organizations are attracting diverse candidates and utilizing hiring practices. This helps to create an inclusive environment at work by being equitable to diverse perspectives of employees. Many organizations with an ad hoc culture are very diverse because there is a recognition that diversity and inclusivity often result in innovation and creativity.

2. Developing and implementing policies

Policies help to construct a concrete base for developing organization culture. HR should develop policies that support labor laws and reflect and shape the culture of the organization. The Human Resources department ensures the consistent application of these policies to ensure a culture of fairness and inclusion. This helps give your employees a sense of predictability, stability, and security. This is very important for organizations with a hierarchy culture.

3. Feedback

Feedback is very important when it comes to understanding employee enrolment and success in the organization. HR should always actively listen to employees and provide feedback to management. Employee impulse and engagement surveys, employee focus groups, and one-on-one interviews are all valuable ways HR can stay in touch with employee sentiment. HR is also increasingly using predictive analytics to predict future outcomes from existing and historical data, such as who is likely to leave the organization based on engagement feedback. HR can then take the necessary steps to personalize your engagement with specific employees. Providing and responding to employee feedback is especially important for organizations with a clan culture.


Organizational culture has a significant impact on how your company approaches work and business, your brand, and whether it achieves your organizational goals. With knowledge of the different types of organizational culture, you understand what type your organization wants to have and what it needs to change to get there. HR leaders also know that they are influencers and change agents in shaping organizational culture. Most importantly, HR understands which HR initiatives would be most beneficial to your organization based on your current culture or the culture your organizations aspire to.