30 words to describe company culture (whether good or bad)

Understanding and articulating your company culture is important for many people within an organization, whether you’re a senior leader or a member of middle management, human resources, marketing, or otherwise. However, it’s especially critical for those in recruiting / talent acquisition since your everyday work requires you to both identify gaps in your internal culture and improve them, as well as actively sell the organization (flaws and all!) to candidates and clients. No matter how you slice it, you’ll need to be able to describe your company culture in detail in order to do your best work.

That said, if being able to describe your company culture is new to you – perhaps you’re a startup or a small group – or even if it’s something you’ve had to do before, finding the words to evaluate and describe your company’s culture can be daunting and time-consuming. We hope these common words used to describe good and bad aspects of company culture will help you do it with confidence.

Words to describe a positive company culture

Some of the words most commonly used to describe a company culture in an attractive way:

Family-Oriented – employees are offered benefits and flexibility that make it easy to find balance

Rewarding – those who exceed expectations are recognized, even in non-monetary ways

Relaxed – workers are given some freedom to decide how they do their best work and then do it that way

Challenging – team members are pushed to explore and work at the top of their skill sets; employees who are up for a challenge have access to more challenging work at any time

Collaborative – employees work well with one another, within and between departments

Nurturing – the organization supports employee growth and development; gives employees clear feedback and suggestions before moving to termination

Motivating – employees feel motivated to achieve because of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards

Engaging – employees feel invested in their work and their organization and do their best work every day

Innovative – the company is always seeking new ways to stay a step ahead of the industry and is open to feedback and ideas

Fun – the organization creates opportunities for fun in daily work

Casual – the dress code, the environment, or the communication style is casual; formality isn’t required

Fast-paced – employees have no trouble staying busing and thriving in their work environments and their workday goes by quickly

Autonomous – employees have both the freedom and accountability to change their workplace and their results

Inclusive – diversity is welcomed and appreciated

Friendly – staff engage in positive interactions with one another throughout the day

Words to describe a negative company culture

You might feel tempted to grab words from the list above and stop reading, but almost every organization working to put a finger on their organization’s culture will have a few negative aspects to address.

Here are some of the common words used to describe negative cultures and a brief example of each. You can use them to help improve your own company culture or even simply to have a better understanding of what to avoid:

Discriminatory – the organization favors certain groups over others, evidenced in promotions and terminations

Toxic – employees walk on eggshells to avoid being targeted by toxic employees and managers, who are never addressed

Inconsistent – the direction of the organization (or expectations on staff) change with the wind

Demanding – employees are expected to meet unrealistic demands and expectations

Rigid – flexibility is non-existent; work hours, setting, and processes are already established and employees must conform

Unsupportive – when push comes to shove, the organization won’t support its employees when a customer complains

Outdated – the organization has failed to move forward over time or isn’t open to innovative ideas and change

Micromanaging – the CEO demands to be included in the selection process for a receptionist six levels below her in the org chart

Unforgiving – employees are reprimanded (or even fired) for the first transgression rather than corrected and guided

Biased – the organization allows bad apples to stay because of friendships or relationships

Disengaged – managers and other employees are largely aloof or indifferent and invest little of themselves to their work and to each other besides the bare minimum

Unrewarding – the organization has high demands and high achievers but doesn’t nothing to recognize them

Boring – employees aren’t given enough work or work isn’t challenging for them

Unethical – employees are doing work they don’t feel good about or are aware of unsavory company practices

Siloed – employees don’t understand their role in the large of the organization or their impact on the end result

Remember, recognizing the negative aspects is the fuel your organization needs to push forward and grow. And also, taking the time to address the negative aspects of your culture will not only improve your company internally, but it will also naturally reflect outwardly and improve your employer brand as well.

This article first appeared on Kununu.