Company culture is an essential component of a businesses foundational structure.  In order to maintain and attract exceptional talent, you want to ensure your workplace culture is one where employees will remain productive and happy.  Today, many businesses are directing a significant portion of their focus on the way their company functions internally, and how they can improve their workplace culture overall, and ultimately improve the function of their business.  However, in recent years due to the surge in new startup companies, the concept of “company culture” has begun to see some changes from its “traditional” form; and though it’s safe to say both forms of company culture can provide a positive workplace environment, they each hold their differences.

So, what are some of the major differences between startup and traditional corporate culture?

Flexible Schedule v. Set 9-5

Whether you prefer a looser startup culture or a more structured corporate culture is all based on personal preference.  Some employees prefer and thrive better in a more structured, traditional corporate environment, while others, work better with more flexibility.  This is one of the first, and main differences between startup and traditional corporate culture. Typically, a traditional structure is made up of a Monday-Friday 9-5 work schedule, meaning your hours are generally set and should require little to no work after hours or on weekends.  Startup culture, on the other hand, is known for having a more “flexible” schedule; giving employees the flexibility to start work at a later time, or even work remotely. However, with that, there is usually a possibility of working late or weekend hours.

Fast-Paced, Heavy Responsibility v. Work-Life Balance, Maintaining Your Role

Startup companies are known for having a faced-paced, ever-changing work environment.  Employees in a startup will usually experience quick movement in their work, changes within the role, and even the opportunity to wear multiple hats within the organization.  For some, this is exciting, promotes creativity, and eliminates the day to day monotony of a continuous routine. However, the heavy workload associated with that of a startup can sometimes result in extended work hours, which some may relate to an unhealthy work-life balance.  The standard structure of a traditional corporate environment differs in that it is generally more regimented, and employees don’t normally venture out of their assigned position. Additionally, corporate employees may find their set role and schedule provides a healthier work-life balance.

Passion Over Pay v. Pay Over Passion

It’s well-known that many of the employees who choose to work for a startup company are quite passionate about what they do and generally use that passion as a substitute for the cut they may take in salary.  Startups (as the name suggests), are new to their industry and are in the process of forming their vision, and working towards a common goal. As a result, employees of a startup will likely have a lower salary than if they were working for a large corporate organization.  However, for some, the passion, opportunity to directly impact how the company functions, and the chance to be creative outweighs the potential pay-cut.  On the other hand, a corporate structure generally provides employees with a salary based on their experience and education level but may limit the opportunity to be creative or impact large company decisions.

Company culture is important in any setting, whether in a startup or traditional corporate environment; the type of culture that works for you is generally based on your personal preference and where you feel you would thrive and perform to the best of your ability.