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110 Words to Describe Company Culture: The Good, Bad, and Indifferent

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Think of the last time you recounted your work life. What were the words you used? 

When chatting about work, we use certain words to paint a picture of what it’s like. The words we use to describe a company, department, or team invoke a feeling in the listener of our daily experiences of how people behave, their attitudes, and how work gets done. Not necessarily knowingly, these conversations describe the culture of our workplace.

Taking a step back and evaluating how you describe your work environment, are the words positive, negative, or neutral? How do you think your team members would describe the culture to others?

One place to get insight into how current and former employees describe their experiences and the cultures they work within is Glassdoor. There is no more humbling experience than a Glassdoor review. These reviews and the words used are packed with such good insight that MIT Sloane Management Review, CultureX, and Glassdoor partnered to “conduct a rigorous large-scale research project to measure corporate culture in top companies, using a data set of 1.4 million employee reviews from Glassdoor. Over a three-year period, the Culture 500 research team developed an AI-powered system for measuring culture using natural language processing to analyze text responses from actual employees.” 

Now you won’t necessarily be able to do what the team at Culture 500 did to evaluate your culture; you can, however, can do something similar. To gain insight from your team, use the lists of words to describe the work environment below and see which of these words they use to describe the team culture and what words they would like to be able to use in the future. Their input can expose what’s working well in the team’s culture and where improvements need to be made. 


Download the Team Culture Toolkit to Better Understand Where Your Culture Is  and What You Want It To Be. >>


110 Words to Describe Your Company Culture

The Good

When positive words, such as those listed below, are used to describe a team's culture or the culture across an entire organization, the impact can be far-reaching. If these are words used, you may experience the benefits of a positive workplace culture, such as reduced turnover, increased productivity, enhanced job satisfaction and engagement, and reduced absenteeism.


Positive words to describe company culture

  • Accepting
  • Accountable
  • Achievement
  • Adventurous
  • Agile
  • Appreciative
  • Autonomous
  • Balanced
  • Belonging
  • Caring
  • Change leader
  • Collaborate
  • Compassionate
  • Connected
  • Creative
  • Curious
  • Customer-focused
  • Cutting-edge
  • Dignity
  • Empathetic
  • Empowered
  • Encouraging
  • Engaged
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Ethical
  • Fair
  • Feedback rich
  • Flexible
  • Friendly
  • Fun
  • Harmonious
  • Inclusive
  • Innovative
  • Inspiring
  • Integrity
  • Inviting
  • Kindness
  • Learning
  • Motivating
  • Nimble
  • Open
  • Passionate
  • People-focused
  • Positive
  • Progressive
  • Recognition
  • Resilient
  • Respectful
  • Results-driven
  • Rewarding
  • Stimulating
  • Strategic
  • Supportive
  • Transparent
  • Trusting
  • Valued
  • Visionary
  • Welcoming

The Bad

If the words you or your team use to describe the current culture fall within the list below, let this act as the impetus for a culture change. These words can help you pinpoint why the current culture is the way it is today, what needs to change, and what behaviors need to be eliminated. While it may not be easy to hear the negative aspects of your current culture, change can only happen once a problem is recognized. 


Negative words to describe company culture

  • Abusive
  • Aimless
  • Antagonistic
  • Archaic
  • Belittled
  • Biased
  • Bitter
  • Boring
  • Bureaucratic
  • Cliquey
  • Combative
  • Controlling
  • Critical
  • Cutthroat
  • Dated
  • Deceitful
  • Demanding
  • Destructive
  • Disrespectful
  • Expendable
  • Fearful
  • Frantic
  • Hostile
  • Intense
  • Isolating
  • Machiavellian
  • Micromanaged
  • Old
  • On edge
  • Pompous
  • Power-hungry
  • Restrictive
  • Rigid
  • Rigorous
  • Secretive
  • Siloed
  • Stressful
  • Toxic
  • Unapproachable
  • Unfair
  • Unsupportive
  • Volatile

The Indifferent

Depending on the industry and the nature of work, the words below may be positive or negative. Your interpretation of whether these words are positive, negative, or neutral regarding your team culture will be up to you.


Neutral words to describe company culture

  • Competitive
  • Established
  • Fierce
  • Formal
  • Hierarchical
  • Memorable
  • Predictable
  • Risk-Averse
  • Structured
  • Traditional


Next Steps: Understanding Where You Are And Where You Want To Go

Culture is formed by how people behave, their attitudes, and how they get work done. Therefore, every team, department, and organization has a culture, whether intentionally crafted or not. Unfortunately, when cultures are left to form organically, harmful or undesirable behaviors can become the norm.

Being intentional about your culture starts with understanding where you are today and where you want to go. To help you, The team at the Niagara Institute created The Toolkit for Understanding Your Team Culture to start your journey. Within it, you will find:

  1. Work Team Culture Assessment: A quick diagnosis tool to understand which of the four types of work culture is most dominant for your team.
  2. Employee Questions About Culture: A series of questions for leaders to ask their team to get a pulse on the team’s culture. As a bonus, a step-by-step guide to creating your culture survey using Google forms is included.
  3. 110 Words to Describe Culture: As found in this post, a sharable, one-page document that teams can use to describe their current and desired culture.
  4. The Ace Method Worksheet for Shaping Your Team Culture: An editable worksheet for leaders and their teams to intentionally set the behaviors they need to create the right culture.

The Team Culture Toolkit Conains Resources That Will Help You Understand Where Your Culture Is Today and What You Want It to Be