get in touch

Buzzwords Defined: Organizational Culture Primer


Nicholas Srebrow

Date Published

Feb 26, 2024
7 minute read
Workplace culture buzzwords

As my colleague Kelly Barlow noted in her insights on workplace buzzwords, no matter the industry, there are terms thrown around that mean something in one organization that would be met with stares of confusion in another. More recently, customer experience expert Dozie Nwaneri provided context for hot-button CX phrases. Now, as we begin a new year, we will cover buzzwords around a topic we believe will remain front and center in 2024: organizational culture.

Whether public or private sector, culture matters, with 88% of employees and 94% of executives believing that a strong organizational culture is key to business success. To help ensure you are building or maintaining a culture that’s true to your organization and its mission while remaining relevant to today’s employees, below are insights on culture buzzwords you need to know now.

Culture: Let’s start with the basics. At The Clearing, we define culture as values and beliefs in action, which are required to enable business and mission results.

Workplace Buzzwords

A powerful culture is intentionally cultivated and requires leaders to model, advocate for, and incentivize the behaviors that they want to see. Prioritize transparency, trust, and inclusivity, as it lays the foundation for a positive and collaborative organizational environment. Remember that individual behavior is often driven by systems, policies, and procedures, so ensuring that those structural elements of the organization are aligned with the desired culture is critical.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Access (DEIA): A comprehensive approach to enabling a workplace culture that’s safe, fair, respectful, and inclusive for all individuals within the organization.

Workplace Buzzwords

Partner with HR and your recruitment teams to ensure diverse hiring practices so that your recruitment processes are unbiased and actively seek diverse candidates. This includes diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. To read more about The Clearing’s approach to DEIA, visit our Commitments page.

Employee Engagement: The measure of an employee’s enthusiasm, dedication, and involvement in their work, reflecting a sense of purpose and alignment with the organization’s values and objectives.

Workplace Buzzwords

Encourage regular and meaningful communication, fostering an environment where employees feel seen, heard, valued, and strongly connected to the organization’s mission. Cultivating such strong relationships between employees and the organization often directly correlates to increased engagement.

Employee Experience (EX): The overall journey and interactions that employees have with their employer, starting from the initial recruitment phase through their entire employment lifecycle.

Workplace Buzzwords

Invest in EX by actively seeking and incorporating feedback, providing growth opportunities, and fostering a workplace that values employee well-being, ultimately enhancing overall employee satisfaction and retention. A positive employee experience is another factor that contributes to employee engagement.

Employee Well-Being: A holistic approach fostered by an employer to support the physical, mental, and emotional health of employees.

Workplace Buzzwords

Collaborate with your HR team to promote a healthy work-life balance by providing appropriate salary and benefits, encouraging breaks, respecting personal time boundaries, and offering support programs. Ensuring employees’ well-being is prioritized contributes to a more sustainable and productive workplace.

Feedback Culture: A workplace where feedback is actively encouraged, celebrated, and used for continuous improvement.

Workplace Buzzwords

Proactively and publicly solicit feedback regularly. Emphasize the importance of specific and actionable feedback, focusing on both strengths and areas for growth to drive professional development and team success. Demonstrate what feedback you receive and how you are or are not acting upon it – one of the best ways to inadvertently stifle a feedback culture is for employees to develop a belief that their feedback disappears into a vacuum and/or is ignored.

Microaggressions: Subtle, often unintentional, comments or behaviors that marginalize or belittle individuals based on aspects of who they are (e.g., race, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion).

Workplace Buzzwords

Address microaggressions in the workplace by fostering awareness through education, encouraging open discussions about unconscious biases, leveraging opportunities for learning and growth, and taking appropriate action in the face of any discriminatory behavior.

Psychological Safety: The belief that members of a team can take risks, express their ideas and concerns, speak up with questions, and admit mistakes without fear of negative consequences

Workplace Buzzwords

Leaders go first. Demonstrate vulnerability by sharing your challenges, mistakes, and uncertainties, so that your team knows it’s okay to acknowledge imperfections and learn from experiences. Ensure that your organization’s systems, policies, and procedures allow for growth and learning and do not create incentives against understandable error or failure.

Purpose-Driven Culture: A workplace culture that emphasizes a shared sense of purpose and social responsibility.

Workplace Buzzwords

Establish why the organization exists – what is its purpose? What is it trying to achieve? Articulate and reinforce the organization’s mission and values, aligning them with meaningful goals, and ensure every team member understands how their contributions contribute to the larger purpose, creating a sense of shared commitment and fulfillment. 

Resilience: The ability to adapt and bounce back from challenges and disruptions.

Workplace Buzzwords

Promote a growth mindset within your organization by emphasizing adaptability to change and providing support systems that help team members bounce back from challenges stronger than before, fostering a culture of learning, agility, and perseverance.

Self-Care: Activities and practices that individuals engage in to maintain and improve their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Workplace Buzzwords

Foster a work environment that respects work-life balance, encourages breaks, and supports mental health. Ensure that employees know the resources that are available to them through the organization so that they can make informed choices about their self-care.

Work-Life Balance: The equilibrium between personal and professional life.

Workplace Buzzwords

Encourage a healthy work-life balance by staffing your organization appropriately for the relevant workload, having managers set clear expectations with direct reports, considering flexible scheduling options (if available in your industry), and most importantly – leading by example.

More on Organizational Culture

As culture at large evolves, workplace culture must do the same. And just like the culture at large, navigating workplace culture – and its ever-changing terminology – is likely to become more complex.

Our team of experts is glad to help you examine and refine your organization’s culture to meet your mission, create an exceptional employee experience, and better serve your customers. Reach out anytime – we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss what is happening inside your organization. In the meantime, take a look at our Ideas & Insights page for more thought leadership from our culture team.