Could you accurately and succinctly describe your company culture right now? If you asked a sampling of random employees the same question, would you get consistent answers?

For many organizations, the answer to these questions is no. Organizational culture is often vaguely defined and poorly communicated. Even if your company has a great culture, you may not know how to articulate that culture in a clear and compelling way. However, being able to convey your culture is critical. In fact, 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a distinct company culture is vital to organizational success, and 88 percent of employees who understand their company’s values are engaged at work.

Understanding Your Culture

Not sure where to start with defining and articulating your culture? Here are a few common culture types to compare your own organization against:

1. The Go-Getters

A company with a go-getter culture is full of leaders and soon-to-be leaders. These organizations aren’t looking for employees who just want to collect a paycheck. Instead, ambition is the name of the game.

One caveat: Teamwork can suffer at the hands of cutthroat competition. If you operate a go-getter culture, make extra effort to foster collaboration. Allow each and every one of your emerging leaders to be captain every now and then.

2. The Collaborators

This culture rejects siloed work in favor of pooling resources, knowledge, and skills to get the job done quicker and better. Efficient and creative solutions through collaboration are the priority.

Companies with this kind of culture are looking for team players, but don’t forget to establish clear-cut responsibilities to maintain accountability. Otherwise, things might slip through the cracks.

3. Work/Life Balance

In this culture, people know how to work hard and play hard, and they will often do both together. If you don’t know how to let loose once the clock strikes 5 p.m., you need not apply.

That said, everyone needs time for themselves on occasion. Companies with this kind of culture must ensure employees have access to private spaces for focused work when needed, as well as easy ways to opt out of company gatherings when necessary.

4. Grindstone

This performance-driven culture puts work ethic at the forefront and noses to the grindstone. It’s important for each employee to pull their weight and provide a noticeable contribution — but be careful that this doesn’t lead to too much burning of the midnight oil. Prevent burnout by creating flexible schedules and organizing the occasional work-free fun!

5. Busy Bees

This company culture operates at full throttle all the time. What the team may lack in organization it makes up for in delivery. If you’re not going 100 mph, you’re going to get left behind.

While this culture is super productive, team members need to work carefully to avoid losing sight of the bigger picture. Teams should regularly step back from daily tasks to take inventory and evaluate how the whole machine is running.

6. Clan Culture

Clan cultures are tightly knit teams. Employees are supportive and loyal, and the company places a strong emphasis on strong relationships between coworkers. Those who enjoy office parties, team-building, and chats at the office cooler will fit in perfectly here.

7. Progressive Culture

Progressive cultures are disruptors. They trade isolating cubicles and offices for redefined spaces employees can thrive in. Employees are encouraged to have a voice and experiment with new ideas. Being person-oriented gives the progressive culture a leg up, as these companies use direct input from their employees to shape the environment, which results in happier employees and improved work.

Defining Your Culture

To help put a finger on exactly what your company culture is, consider these key aspects of your organization:

1. The Company Mission Statement

This should clearly articulate the directives, goals, and values of the organization. Consult with leadership to determine what those are and what they mean to the company and its larger business objectives.

2. The Company Brand

This should communicate how the organization wants to be perceived. Make sure that your brand reflects where you want to go and how you want your market to understand your company.

3. The Talent

Who is getting hired, who is being retained, and how are people working together? Your top performers are excellent indicators of the kinds of people who will be successful at your company. Often, they may even be the biggest advocates of change to your culture. Listen to what they have to say.

4. The Atmosphere

Take a stroll around the office and consider how things look, how employees socialize, and what the general vibe is like. Observe the employees and ask yourself:

- Are they collaborative in their work, or does everyone have their headphones on and heads down?
- Do you see friendship or irritation? Focus or distraction?
- Are people moving around too quickly (or slowly) for you to even gauge emotion or engagement?
- Are there feet on the desks or well-polished pros wearing pressed suits?

5. The Hiring Process

If your goal is to create a coherent company culture, you’ll need to consistently hire employees who reflect that culture. How candidates align with your culture should be a key consideration in any hiring decision.

Here are a few questions to ask about your hiring process to determine whether it is aligned with your culture:

- Do you find that most turnover is due to lack of skills or lack of cultural fit?
- How are you positioning your culture in interviews to ensure an accurate picture is presented to candidates?
- Does recruiting collateral like job descriptions, your careers page, and social media posts reflect the culture?
- Do you invite existing employees to the interview to see how the candidate interacts with their potential teammates?

All in all, defining, communicating, and maintaining the company culture you want can be challenging. However, it is an absolutely vital aspect of organizational success. Start with the very basics: Figure out what your culture is and how you can convey it to employees and candidates alike.

A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.

Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.

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