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Corporate culture: a critical driver of high employee engagement

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Corporate Culture

It’s no secret that having a strong corporate culture has a direct impact on employee engagement. L&D teams have a pivotal role in improving, strengthening and supporting culture throughout your organization. But do you know how to effectively engage your employees and help them thrive?

First, What Exactly Is Corporate Culture?

What we refer to as corporate culture is really a unique set of values, attitudes, and beliefs that guide an organization and its employees on how they should interact with each other and customers. It’s also the workers, the office itself, and the narrative, or corporate mythology, that the organization tells about itself. A company’s culture impacts decisions about people, practices, and everything else. In short, corporate culture is what determines how and why things are done in a company.

How Corporate Culture Impacts Employee Engagement

It is well established that a strong corporate culture leads to direct improvements in employee engagement. When well-defined and communicated, it clearly sets expectations for expressed behaviors and norms to let workers know what’s expected of them and their colleagues. The result is that they feel connected to, involved in, and supported by the culture, motivating them to be more involved with their team and how they contribute to the company. This leads to feelings of acceptance and inclusion, guaranteeing higher employee engagement and happier employees.

Examples of top global companies with strong corporate cultures


At the 215 years old publishing company, culture is built internally through employee resource groups (ERGs). Employee-led ERGs are the voice of global colleagues—reflecting the company’s cultural communities and common interests.

In addition, every ERG contributes to Wiley’s Enterprise Committee, continually helping to make their workplace more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.


The outdoor equipment manufacturing and retail giant is known for its uniquely strong corporate culture. Its employee-owner structure provides financial incentives for all employees while its outdoorsy culture encourages bonding and communication. Employees aren’t just urged to enjoy the outdoors and the company’s products, they are actively supported in doing so via worker-arranged wilderness adventures. When employees share a common interest in the company’s products and lifestyle, they’ll form deep bonds with each other and with the company – leading to a happy, dedicated workforce.


Considered one of the best places to work in all of New York City, SquareSpace prides itself on a flat corporate culture with few layers between employees and top management. This structure tends to allow employees’ voices to be heard without being drowned out by or filtered through extra layers of management. In addition to excellent health and vacation benefits, the company’s office space itself is a vital part of its culture, featuring relaxation spaces, fully stocked kitchens, catered lunches, guest speakers, and other events. Their culture of freedom, fun, and personal empowerment contributes to confident employees and good morale companywide.


The footwear giant Zappos is well-known for putting its values at the very core of the organization. It’s so committed to only hiring employees who fit with that culture that it offers every new employee a $2000 payment to quit after one week. This helps weed out workers who don’t quite fit in without shame while encouraging sincere buy-in from employees. Additionally, the company encourages all employees to think outside the box, valuing creativity and open communication. From day one on the job, each employee is instilled with the company’s ten core values, including its dedication to excellent customer service and a fun workplace for all. 


The video-conference app that everyone got to know during pandemic lockdown is more than just a typical tech startup with good benefits. The company considers employee happiness as a core value, working under the assumption that happier employees do better work. Office events and celebrations are common and new hires and remote workers are taught the importance of their own happiness from day one. The company is committed to every employee’s growth and development, even encouraging and supporting workers’ personal passions and interests. Zoom prides itself on being a great place to work where every employee is treated like family.

Does your corporate culture measure up?

Though anecdotal evidence might be in abundant supply, you need to measure real data to get an accurate picture of the health of your corporate culture. Fortunately, those data are available to most companies. Here’s what you should measure and how:

How L&D can strengthen corporate culture

Here are some tips for how L&D teams can develop and support a thriving corporate culture long term:


A healthy and strong corporate culture can have a big positive impact on your people, organization, and bottom line. It’s a key contributor to employee engagement as well as attracting top talent and worker retention. As an L&D leader, you can and should put your corporate culture at the center of everything you do, including making it a key part of your training strategy. A thriving corporate culture makes for a thriving company, and L&D teams should be top contributors to making this happen.

Culture is just one way to improve Employee Engagement.
Discover how other top companies are improving engagement through employee-centric initiatives.