It’s Not One Size Fits All: Adapting Culture Change for Your Company

by Pranav Ramesh
August 23, 2022

Sixty-nine percent of employees would work harder if they received more recognition from their employers. Sixty-three percent of US companies find it harder to retain workers than to hire them. Eighty-six percent of job seekers avoid companies with a bad reputation. Millennials tend to prioritize ‘people and culture fit’ above everything else. These statistics on company culture should give CEOs pause for concern.  

The last 3 years have produced such rapid change across all sectors of the economy that companies have had a tough time simply keeping pace with such fluid and dynamic circumstances. While the critical business units within your company have had to adapt on the fly, there are other elements of your business that can become neglected when so much change happens at once.  

One of these commonly forgotten aspects of business is a company’s culture. Company culture refers to the attitudes and decisions of the company and its employees. Culture is noticed in obvious ways: the way employees interact and in the values that both the employee and employer hold. And although culture has been a buzzword amongst the C-suite for several years, the one-size-fits-all model of adapting to culture change can be very limiting. Culture should improve a company’s unique features, not the other way around.  

How can you adapt your company’s culture in ways that work for your organization, your staff, and your clients?  

Go beyond assessing your current culture

If you have already recognized the warning signs that your company culture needs a refresh, you can begin the process of cultural change by assessing what’s working and what isn’t, but also by asking a lot of questions about why policies and procedures exist, what function they serve, and solicit feedback on day-to-day operations as well as future growth from all stakeholders.  

Many HR professionals are well versed in soliciting feedback from employees, so make sure HR is incorporated fully into the process and mechanism for achieving cultural change. Once feedback has been collected and areas of improvement have been identified, you can start to customize and personalize what cultural change needs to look like for your company.  

Since you’ve been able to identify what you don’t want perpetuating within your company, make certain to define the desired values and behaviors that you do want to perpetuate. Your HR team can help to write descriptions of what successful behaviors look like for each of the custom values you define. They can then communicate how those behaviors translate into actionable items for employees to perform. Next, ensure that you’re the new culture with strategy and processes, especially within HR, where so much of the company culture originates. Does your company’s new mission align with HR processes, including recruitment, hiring, performance reviews, and compensation? 

Cultural contribution becomes more important than cultural fit

Continuing with HR’s role in adapting to culture change, hiring becomes a great tool to set the tone for change. While you want to ensure that you’re hiring the right fit for your company, it can also mean that your repeat the pattern of hiring new employees with the same background, values, and experience that your current staff has, making change more difficult with each new hire.  

Instead of hiring for cultural fit, envision the cultural contributions a new hire with different values and thought processes can bring in to support your desired change. As your company evolves through a global pandemic and rapid technological advancements, you need employees who can help build the desired culture while helping to create buy-in from current employees. Hiring for cultural contribution rather than cultural fit also makes real attempts at diversity and inclusion much more natural and achievable. When looking to better DEI within your company, start by framing the desire to improve DEI through a cultural contribution lens instead.  

Use storytelling and original ideas to your advantage

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant is one of the biggest proponents of using storytelling and original thought to help introduce and implement cultural change. Grant believes that the power of storytelling can take employees on a journey by making the unfamiliar (new company culture) familiar when you’re trying to implement such a notable change. Rather than communicating something entirely new, company leaders can frame change as something that employees are already familiar with and use it to encourage engagement with the journey. This technique can be a powerful way to communicate change in an organization. 

Original thought or complex problem solving, can also be significantly beneficial as leaders in the C-Suite and HR begin to talk about change. The foundation of a successful company culture that encourages learning and growth is psychological safety — being able to take risks without fear of reprisal. Research demonstrates that when employees feel psychologically safe, they’re more willing to acknowledge mistakes and prevent them from moving forward. They’re also more comfortable broaching problems with supervisors and exploring innovative solutions to those problems. These are great characteristics to encourage among all staff to promote, implement, and assess the new company culture.  


Don’t wait until the culture at your company is actively suffering, causing massive employee departures, expensive mistakes, and poor productivity, before you initiate a change. While the one-size-fits model of culture change may seem outdated and inflexible, there are ways that companies can adapt or update their culture without relinquishing core tenets. And everyone involved with the organization will be enhanced as a result of better and stronger company culture.  


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