They discuss organisational values, management techniques, people-first policies and more topics that can help you build a strong organisational foundation. After all, workplace culture can make or break your organisation, so you want to get it right, right?
Company culture books you have to read this year
Our list of business culture books is ideal for founders, managers and HR leads who want to build (or rebuild) work culture from the ground up. The list features recent releases and classics that stand the test of time.
1. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups
Daniel Coyle’s book is one of the best books on workplace culture out there. Without giving away too much, we can tell you that the author advocates a three-pronged approach to fostering cooperation and unity:
- build safety
- share vulnerability
- establish purpose
It’s a great resource for those looking to repair broken cultures as well.
“The number-one job is to take care of each other. I didn’t always know that, but I know it now.”
2. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
Simon Sinek makes a great case for strong leadership in this book on workplace culture. The premise of the book is that highly successful workplaces are almost always built on trust between leaders and their teams.
By leveraging biology and the science of human emotions, the book goes beyond generic management tips to advocate creating a “circle of safety” and building healthy team relationships.
“Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability: all components of trust.”
3. The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace
In this book, Ron Friedman uses behavioural economics, neurology, and management psychology concepts to demonstrate how an office setting may influence employees’ thinking. From rewarding failure to the impact of office design, the author discusses the underlying influences of workplace culture and how to get them right.
“The secret to happy workplaces isn’t spending more money. It’s about creating the conditions that allow employees to do their best work.”
4. Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live
Google is one of the most sought-after workplaces, and not just because of the free gourmet food and access to future-first technology. In this book, Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations, unveils the incredible ways that Google employs to keep their “Best Company for Work” title year after year.
Just like the company, their cultural methods are innovative and daring. So if you want to transform your workplace culture, this book is for you.
“Building an exceptional team or institution starts with a founder. But being a founder doesn’t mean starting a new company. It is within anyone’s grasp to be the founder and culture-creator of their own team, whether you are the first employee or joining a company that has existed for decades.”
5. The Culture Question: How to Create a Workplace Where People Like to Work
What makes employees engage or disengage at work? This is the fundamental question that this book addresses and provides potential answers to. From communicating purpose to creating teams that consistently perform at their peak, The Culture Question provides sound advice on creating a place where people love to work.
“Culture is represented in the language you use, the stories you tell, and your daily work practices.”
6. Radical Candor
Honesty and openness is the focus of the framework shared in this book by Kim Malone Scott. It shows that it is very possible to care for and challenge employees, provide critical feedback while being kind, leading from the front while also being compassionate. Adopting this attitude as a leader will help employees be kinder and more empathetic towards each other, all the while pushing the organisation towards critical goals. It’s one of those win-win kind of company culture books!
“The way you ask for criticism and react when you get it goes a long way toward building trust—or destroying it.”
7. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
This book by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh spills the beans on how Zappos achieved both financial success and the rep of being one of the best places to work for, without compromising on one over the other. Zappos is an excellent example of a workplace that succeeded by focusing on making everyone around them happier rather than merely more productive.
“We must all learn not only to not fear change, but to embrace it enthusiastically and, perhaps even more important, encourage and drive it.”
8. The Culture Quotient: Ten Dimensions of a High-Performance Culture
Through examples from scores of the world’s top organisations—including Slack and AmEx—Greg Besner dives into the key qualities of workplaces that support a high-performance culture. By using these building blocks as a foundation, Bosner displays how one can recreate winning cultures and create a surge in healthy productivity and retention.
“In a company with strong mission and value alignment, all employees know the mission and values, understand how they connect to their individual work, and see the mission and values consistently followed in day-to-day operations.”
9. The Culture Book: When Culture Clicks
Think of this book as an album of every band’s greatest hits. You’ll find insights from industry-leading professionals and organisations—including Indeed and Buffer—that’ll guide you in establishing a successful and empathetic company culture. It’s a well-rounded resource that you’ll find yourself referring back to once in a while.
“Culture determines what our organisations are capable of.”
10. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Every team has an introvert or two: someone who is indispensable to the team but isn’t very visible or conversational. In this book, Susan Cain walks us through the mind of introverts and shows us how to unleash their potential. It’s a great way to familiarise yourself with the nuances of a diverse team, where personalities come together and what’s best for one person may not be so for another.
“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
Company culture books = building blocks
Building a culture takes time and consistent effort. It involves a lot of listening, understanding, and policy-making. When you’re building or rebuilding workplace culture, it’s helpful to have some of the best company culture books at hand to refer to once in a while.
We’d also highly recommend leveraging empathetic tools—such as Pause—to enshrine intention into policy and create guidelines that everyone can follow. After all, it isn’t just about talking the talk, but walking the walk!