Cultural breakdown: Comparing organisational, industry and company culture

Culture is a word that seems to be thrown around a lot nowadays. Though we say it all the time, very rarely do we understand the layers and intricacies of culture.

Cultural breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the three layers of culture in the workplace:

Industry culture is the unique set of values or ideals that underpin an industry.

Organisational culture on the other hand, is the unique ideas and values that underpin that company, and are defined by the workplace behaviours which set that company apart from the rest of its industry.

Company culture is how an organisation can make itself stand out amongst its competitors. In addition to this, with the right culture, employee engagement will improve, which will in turn boost productivity and the quality of work.


You can’t have one without the other

Both industry and organisational culture can have bad and good connotations. For example, in the healthcare industry, the culture is to be collegiate, diligent, problem solving and compassionate. However, there is a darker side in the industry. Overcompetitiveness, bullying, overwork and burnout are commonplace.

The distinction here between industry culture and organisational culture is that you can’t change industry culture, but you do have the power to change organisational culture. The way you do this is by instilling values, and acting to make employees feel appreciated and that their role is meaningful. If left uncultivated, organisational culture can work against the company, by breeding contempt and dissatisfaction amongst uninspired employees.

The same cannot be said of industry culture, as this represents a broadly believed stereotype of what professionals in that industry behave like, and a subsequent adherence to it. The good news is, that if you have a toxic culture in your organisation, this can be turned around with some well-placed campaigns.

Detoxifying culture through employee engagement

Addressing a toxic culture can be achieved by addressing the signs and symptoms. If you have cliquey, noncommunicative employees, give them praise for their work. Gratitude and praise readily improve employee engagement, and may lifts spirits around the office. Help social interaction between employees by gathering together frequently to call out workers personally for their achievements.

Using an employee engagement platform

Alternatively, if you have the means, create a platform for employee engagement which enables both employees and managers to see what achievements have been made, and making it clear who should be recognised and rewarded. This will also enable camaraderie between coworkers and hopefully they will congratulate each other.

Employ strategic allignment

Another strategy is to ensure expectations between management and employees align. There is nothing more disheartening than an employee feeling as though they are meeting their job requirements and then being told that they are not in a performance review. To remedy this situation, have an open leadership and feedback strategy. Continually track, review, and congratulate employees on reaching goals, helping them to understand their progress as it happens.

Decrease burnout through flex-time

The final factor leading to toxic cultures is when employees are overworked. This may be due to shortcomings in staffing. This can be avoided by effectively forecasting staff requirements prior to their need, so that staff can be efficiently recruited without periodic gaps in staffing. This will require examination of factors which may affect staff requirements, such as expansion of the company, product release or boom in the industry.

It’s in the definition

Put simply, company culture is important to get right, and toxicity should be avoided at all costs. Addressing toxic culture is a top priority of all managers, however, you should also engage with your employees to define your company culture. Considering these factors, and taking definitive action, will help your company to grow into an inclusive, engaging community.  

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