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There are two types of company cultures: The Fun at Work Culture and what I call the Strategic Culture. Which one do you have?

The Fun at Work Culture

  1. Driven solely by the employees and HR.
  2. Starts with: “How can we make our workplace more fun?”
  3. Top management sees it as an HR project and is not involved.
  4. Requires an annual budget.
  5. Usually looks like variety of activity clubs, cool office decor, couches, ping-pong tables and an extravagant espresso machine.

The Fun at Work Culture is an easy way to develop your workplace. Employees are fully engaged and feel happy about being able to contribute.

From the business point of view, this type of culture is totally separate from the business. The elements of the Fun at Work culture are additional costs for the company and benefits for the employees.

The benefits of Fun at Work culture.

The Strategic Culture

The strategic culture interprets the business strategy into an ideal organizational behavior. The purpose of the strategic culture is to guide the business decision makers about:

  • What type of leadership culture will help us best execute our business goals?
  • What type of HR supports best our leadership culture?
  • What type of work personalities are likely to succeed in our business environment?
  • What type of values are relevant to our business goals?
  • How likely are we to be able to execute this new strategy with the current leadership and team from behavioral point of view?

This type of a culture is all about organizational behavior and how to optimize it for the execution of your business strategy.

Fun-at-Work-Culture- vs strategic culture

Culture as a source of competitive advantage

I am a strong supporter of a healthy organizational culture, great leadership and employee commitment. However, there is a significant difference to which type of culture adds real value to a growth business in today’s business environment.

The Fun at Work Culture has become a standard expectation

Today, the Fun Workplace seems to be the base minimum for a modern organization. It still continues to have two important benefits:

  1. It is all about employee contribution and engagement in how to make sure we all come to a happy place every morning.
  2. It’s all about building team spirit and togetherness, which are both extremely important, especially when the going gets rough.

However, in many industries the Fun Workplace is no longer a competitive advantage from employer branding perspective, because it has become a standard expectation. Imagine a tech company that has not invested in a funky office decor?

Forbes: Five ways to have more fun at work >>

Human Resource Management Review: Fun in the Workplace: A review and expanded theoretical perspective >>

However, it is very easy to copy the Fun at Work -elements. Everyone can buy the same coffee machines, sofas and ping pong -tables. Every company can create the same activity clubs and buy caraoke equipment at work.

Today, these are simply just benefits that most modern workplaces have. If everyone offers the same or similar benefits, there is no competitive advantage any longer.

Unfortunately, what The Fun at Work Culture lacks is the transparency between how can I and should I as an employee contribute to the big picture.

Giving employees all the Fun at Work -benefits will also not take away poor leadership or the inability of an organization to execute the business strategy. Talents change jobs due to poor leadership, not because they have or have not Fun at Work -benefits.

The Strategic Culture can be extremely beneficial for growth companies

I was a true advocate of the Fun at Work -culture nearly for the first decade of my HR career. I worked in-house and we never spoke about how to add transparency between the business strategy and job related goals of each employee. Unless you work at sales, employees tend to find it difficult to understand how they contribute to business goals on a daily basis.

I founded my first business in 2010. The purpose of that startup was to develop software for growth companies and job seekers to match based on company cultures and work personalities. During the early development phase, I studied organizational culture pretty heavily, and found out there are over 150 theories around this subject.

Even if my head was spinning like crazy, I soon discovered how much more there is to an organizational culture than just the funky Fun at Work -benefits.

As an entrepreneur and business leader, you start to pay attention to how to make most of your people in the least stressful way.


As an entrepreneur and business leader, you start to pay attention to how to make most of your people in the least stressful way.

I started to comprehend how you could leverage organizational behavior to match talents with your company goals.

I thank my former employer for this still delightfully adequate one liner: Matching talent minds with missions. Because that is at the core of the strategic culture.

The Strategic Culture has two clear benefits

  1. It focuses on the operational effectiveness of an organization. In other words, our capabilities to execute our strategy.
  2. It translates the strategic business emphasis’ into the language of ideal behavioral characteristics. In other words, what type of work personalities are most likely to succeed in delivering this strategy at all levels of the organization.

Strategic culture gives a framework

As an entrepreneur, developing and maintaining our strategic culture gives me a framework:

  • To hiring: I can better identify what types of work personality strengths I need to look for in the talents I hire.
  • To developing my leadership skills: I understand better what type of an entrepreneur and leader I am. I am more equipped to decide my business strategy, because I know what I can and cannot execute.
  • To setting up both business goals and goals of work for my employees: The strategic culture enables me to connect the dots between our strategic aim, real behavioral values and what we must focus on every day at work in order to deliver results and have a healthy business.

The strategic culture makes up the foundation for my business brand and employer brand. It makes our business story clear and unique. And it has become a huge pull factor delivering us both commercial and recruitment inbound leads.

Focusing on building your strategic culture does not take away the fun at work -elements. Our fun at work -elements are simply selected to further clarify our purpose, our values and our mission instead of offering “just anything available sounding like fun”.

Check out this free infographic about Organizational Culture vs. Employee Engagement >>

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