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The 5 Components of Corporate Culture That Employees Want

Fitting the job to a person is important enough, but fitting a person to a corporate culture is where the real matchmaking in recruitment occurs. Do they allow dogs in the office? Are leaders the ones who run meetings, or is there a conch so everyone gets their say? Are there casual Fridays or is every day suit and tie day?

Here at Smart Savvy, we’ve asked thousands of candidates what they want from a corporate culture, and I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised to find that some consistent themes emerged from the data. The people want five major things from a corporate culture, and leaders should focus on building and shaping these areas of their internal brand:


People don’t respond to tasks or to-do lists, they respond to purpose. They like to know where the company is going and why and how they fit and contribute. A corporate culture that has a shared and purposeful vision fuels motivation and gives an understanding of the desired state or destination. With a clear vision your staff will work hard to make it happen. Keep your company people-centric, and keep your people vision-centric.


Despite it being overused, we’re going to say it anyway: communication is key and you can’t overcommunicate. It’s always relevant.

Employees want a corporate culture that listens but also cheers loudly; one that gives feedback and gives room for autonomy; one that is honest but not defeating. Employees crave honest, valuable, empowering communication from both their colleagues as well as their leaders. The days of painting a rosy picture are long gone; people would rather face issues (both good and bad) head on, in the open, and with immediacy. As Career Cast says, “Show me a company with great communication, and I’ll show you a great company.”


Humans have a desire for better, better, better, and more, more, more. We adjust to our surroundings and once we start hitting achievements and feeling comfortable, we want to do things bigger and better; it’s why utopians are psychologically impossible (sorry Orwell). Employees want challenge. They don’t mind been thrown in the deep end (at the right time, and with the right tools, of course). Still shallow water is likely to bore them right out of the job.

Like plants that aren’t watered, if employees are not offered the ability to learn, grow and stretch as MUCH as possible they are likely to die on the vine. For high achievers challenge is them energizing and motivating. Leaders must offer learning through training, guidance, and feedback, in a way that each person responds to.

Corporate culture should encourage both individual growth and growth within the organization. For the ambitious, the option to climb the corporate ladder is an incredible motivator and keeps employees happy to stick around.


The days of heads-down, earbuds-in, don’t-enter-my-cubicle are a thing of the past (unless you are programming or have a deadline). Collaboration is the word of the decade and teamwork is how final products are built and campaigns are launched. Having a corporate culture that encourages collaboration shows that each employee’s input and perspective is valuable and that everyone has something useful to bring to the table. “Whether their two cents is [adopted] isn’t the point. Simply being heard is what’s important because it sends the message that their contribution is valued,” Entrepreneur writes.

(Great) Leadership

As Spiderman’s uncle Ben told him “With great power comes great responsibility”. Being a leader is a privileged position. Great leaders fuel, motivate, teach, engage and get the most out of people. Bad leaders alienate, diminish and eventually lose great talent. Leaders play a pivotal role in building a great culture. Companies that invest in leadership development, holding leaders to account, and insist their leaders be great role models, will inspire people to greatness and companies to success.

Catherine Ducharme

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