The role of team culture in building high-performing teams

Whether traditional, hybrid, or remote, building a strong team culture is essential to the profitability and longevity of organizations in virtually every industry. This article explores what effective team culture is, how to develop it, and which top companies have created workplace cultures that support high-performing teams.

What is team culture?

According to recent Gallup research, only 22% of US workers surveyed strongly agreed that they felt connected to the team culture of their employers. Team culture refers to the shared beliefs, behaviors, working practices, and values of a particular company or organization. For example, a business may impart a team culture of excellence, innovation, inclusivity, or service, depending on what is most central to its purpose. Workplace culture guides both individual and collective action and, consequently, is integral to the success or failure of any organization. By cultivating a robust team culture, companies can increase happiness in their workforce, better differentiate themselves from competitors, and attract top talent.

What is good team culture?

In a robust team culture, everyone in the organization has a deep understanding of both individual and group goals and purposes. Employees feel appreciated, trusted, and supported. In addition to opportunities for personal and professional growth, great team cultures also include alignment on values, working practices, and communication styles, as well as opportunities for team members to voice their opinions and be involved in decision-making. Other important aspects of healthy team culture include diversity and inclusion, opportunities for collaboration and connection, flexible working hours, and programs that promote physical and mental well-being.

Importance of team culture

Culture in teams affects every aspect of a business, from hiring and retaining employees to building strong customer and client relationships and fostering employee happiness, engagement, and productivity. Read on to learn more about the key benefits of a good team culture.

Employee retention

It should come as no surprise that when employees are part of a healthy team culture, they are less likely to leave. Workers who feel strongly connected to their team’s culture are 55% less likely to be actively looking for job opportunities and 5.2 times more likely to recommend their organization to others. On the flipside, in 2022, three times as many Gallup survey respondents reported leaving their jobs due to engagement and culture (or well-being and work-life balance) than did those who left primarily for higher salaries or benefits. If leaders want to maintain their workforce in this historically tight job market, they need to offer company cultures that are desirable to employees.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is often one of the principal drivers of organizational success because it is correlated with morale, productivity, happiness, and job satisfaction and performance. As such, developing a team culture that fosters employee engagement is beneficial to both workers and organizations. Workplace culture affects how well co-workers collaborate, how invested employees are in their roles, and who is rewarded or promoted for their work. When engagement is low, organizations may see high absenteeism levels and turnover rates and poor performance metrics. Whereas, when employees feel strongly connected to their team culture, they are 3.7 times more likely to be engaged at work and 68% less likely to feel burned out.

Employee productivity

One of the key benefits of developing an engaged workforce is that it enhances the productivity of employees. It makes sense that people who are committed, enthused, and involved in reaching their organization’s goals would be more likely to be productive in their work. Poor productivity can be detrimental to the health of a company—and an expensive issue to fix. According to research, highly engaged teams are 14% more productive and employees who aren’t engaged cost their employers the equivalent of 18% of their annual salary. However, there is a viable solution: adapting team culture to promote positivity, encourage collaboration, and better support employees in being successful.

Employee teamwork

The hallmark of high performing teams is often a company culture that promotes meaningful connection and collaboration. That’s why it is so important for leadership to prioritize situations wherein teams work together toward a common goal. This involves identifying the unique skill sets and competencies of different employees and providing opportunities to leverage them in group projects. When co-workers learn how to collaborate more effectively, it can boost job satisfaction, improve relationships, and generate innovative solutions that may not have otherwise been possible.

How to develop team culture

Developing a healthy team culture that empowers employees to reach their full potential should be the goal of every organization. Below are four strategies to create a workplace culture that fosters high-performing teams.

Build trust

Openness, honesty, and trust are the foundations upon which to build a great team culture. Without trust, employees won’t feel comfortable sharing values, raising concerns, and working together to solve problems. One way to build trust and form positive working relationships is to conduct team-building activities that aren’t always focused on work. Whether it’s a game like a scavenger hunt or an activity that involves sharing, the goal should be to give team members the space to speak freely, be vulnerable, and get to know each other on a personal level. Trust is also built when a manager takes the time to voice to individual employees that their work is valued, not only by the team but also by the organization as a whole.

Transparency and communication

A team culture that encourages transparency and communication will inherently promote collaboration. When teams openly communicate ideas, best practices, and knowledge it leads to a workplace wherein people with differing levels of expertise can learn from one another and complement each other. Sharing knowledge and competencies across teams also supports collaborative efforts and achievements rather than encouraging a culture of competitive individualism. It’s also important for managers to clearly outline short and long-term objectives, be transparent about organizational challenges, and reward teams who work together to meet their goals.

Implement collaborative strategies and tools

In traditional, hybrid, and virtual work environments it’s beneficial to create spaces conducive to teamwork and invest in technology the unites employees. For example, office spaces filled with comfortable furniture, whiteboards, and other tools can encourage employees to step away from their desks and come together as a team. Technological collaborative tools such as cloud-based software, messaging apps, and project management and productivity platforms streamline processes and empower employees to communicate and collaborate virtually. With remote employees especially, it’s important to schedule regular video conferences and informal check-ins to ensure that team members have a chance to connect and celebrate wins.

Foster belonging and appreciation

While it’s critical to ensure that teams are aligned with values and company culture, it’s also essential for employees to feel that they belong. In a culture of belonging, everyone is valued for the unique competencies that they offer; there is space for co-workers to form meaningful connections; and diverse experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives are respected. At the end of the day, whether people are working remotely or in the office, they want to feel accepted and appreciated as part of a group. For leaders, this means providing opportunities for team members to bond, have fun, and celebrate collective victories is paramount.

Successful organizations with strong team cultures

Every year, Comparably’s annual Best Global Company Culture list showcases the workplace cultures of large companies with the highest ratings derived from current employees. The categories measured include everything from leadership, diversity, and work-life balance to professional development opportunities, compensation, and benefits.

Below are examples of leading companies that received high scores on their team cultures and metrics on what their employees are saying.


HubSpot is a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform that provides marketing, sales, services, and website management software. The 2,174 HubSpot employees surveyed by Comparably give their leadership a grade of A+ and the majority believe the work environment is positive. Participants also grade the quality of their co-workers, diversity, and work culture an A+. 70% of employees work eight hours or fewer, and most participants believe that the pace at HubSpot is comfortably fast. Overall, employees at HubSpot are extremely happy.


Google is a multinational corporation that specializes in internet-related services and products—with a mission of making global information universally accessible and useful. Of the 5,944 respondents, 72% of employees are motivated by Google's mission, vision, and values. All the participants give leadership an A, placing Google in the Top 10% of similarly sized companies. Employees are also pleased with their total compensation and with their team. The majority of participants view the environment at Google as positive, and 56% work eight hours or less per day, while 11% report working days of 12+ hours.


Experian is a leading global data analytics and consumer credit reporting company. The 347 Experian respondents are extremely happy, both overall and with their team. Most participants believe meetings at Experian are effective and look forward to interacting with their colleagues. Respondents are extremely happy with their compensation, which includes pay, stock and equity, and benefits. The majority of employees at Experian believe the work environment is positive and grade the quality of their co-workers an A+.

The Knot Worldwide

The Knot Worldwide is a technology company that offers wedding planning and family content, tools, products, and services. All 804 participating employees give their leadership an A+, putting The Knot in the Top 5% of similarly sized companies. Work culture, employee retention, and the quality of their team also received an A+ from all respondents. Most employees reported believing that meetings at The Knot are effective, the workplace is positive, and the pace of work is comfortably fast. Around 76% of respondents work eight hours or less and, overall, employees are extremely happy.


Chewy is a popular e-commerce site dedicated to pet food and pet-related products. The 948 Chewy respondents rate leadership, workplace retention, and the quality of their co-workers as an A+. Overall, respondents are extremely happy with their team, view the work environment as positive, and look forward to interacting with their colleagues. Employees at Chewy are pleased with their total compensation and over 50% report they typically work eight hours or less per day.

Learn how to create stronger functioning teams

Organizational leaders who can deftly manage interpersonal relationships within complex and diverse teams are currently in high demand. The 4-course Certificate in Organizational Anthropology at Penn LPS Online is designed to develop your understanding of how teams, corporations, and other organizations create and reinforce workplace culture. Learn how to apply anthropological research to create better functioning groups and improve performance. Discover strategies for influencing change in increasingly digital work environments, including gaining conversational alignment through best communication practices.

The professional expertise that you obtain in the organizational anthropology credential may be applied in a variety of career paths, including:

  • Management consultant
  • Project manager
  • Human resources manager
  • Qualitative research associate

Ready to get started? If you haven’t already, apply to Penn LPS Online today and enroll in the Certificate in Organizational Anthropology. Or view our course guide to see what’s available in any upcoming term.

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