Understanding Organizational Climate

Learn how organizational climate can impact your workplace culture.


What is Organizational Climate?

Organizational climate refers to the atmosphere or environment within an organization created by the attitudes, behaviors, and values of the employees and management. It can describe the overall mood or vibe of the workplace, which can greatly impact employee motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity.

Leadership style, communication patterns, work-life balance, employee recognition, and organizational policies often influence organizational climate. It can be positive or negative and can significantly impact the success of the organization as a whole.

Surveys and assessments are practical tools for gathering employee feedback on their perceptions of workplace safety and environment, providing valuable insights into the organizational climate. Using the collected feedback, you can identify areas of improvement and develop strategies to create a more positive atmosphere within the organization.


Five characteristics define the overall quality of an organizational climate:

  • General perception – Organizational climate reflects the overall essence of the organization and is the collective perception of its internal environment as perceived by its employees.
  • Abstract and intangible concept – This concept is difficult to quantify or measure due to its qualitative nature and complex components.
  • Unique and district identity – It defines an organization’s unique characteristics and helps distinguish it from others.
  • Enduring quality – It refers to the members’ collective perception of the internal environment over a prolonged period.
  • Multi-dimensional concept – The concept of organizational climate encompasses multiple dimensions, including individual autonomy, authority structure, leadership style, communication patterns, and levels of conflict and cooperation.


Having or creating a positive organizational climate can bring several benefits. These include:

  • Increased job satisfaction, which leads to improved morale and motivation
  • Boosted productivity, as employees are likelier to be engaged when they feel valued and respected
  • Enhanced team dynamics, as employees feel more connected to one another and willing to collaborate
  • Improved customer service, as a positive climate can lead to better customer relationships
  • Reduced employee turnover, as employees are more likely to stay in a job where they feel empowered and supported

Organizational Culture vs. Organizational Climate

Organizational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and behaviors that shape the company’s identity. It’s often reflected in company traditions, mission statements, and employee attitudes, giving the organization its “personality.”

On the other hand, organizational climate refers to the overall atmosphere of the workplace. It’s the collective perception of the employees about the work environment, and it’s often reflected in things like communication patterns, leadership styles, and employee morale. It’s the “mood” of the organization, and it can significantly impact employee well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction.

Company leaders must consider culture and climate to create a positive organizational atmosphere. By fostering a strong corporate culture and addressing any issues contributing to a negative climate, companies can create a workplace environment that is both productive and fulfilling for employees.

Types of Organizational Climate

Organizational climates can vary and may consist of a mixture of different types, with certain types being more prevalent. The following are the specific categories of organizational climate.

People-Oriented Climate

A people-oriented climate is a type of organizational climate that prioritizes the well-being, satisfaction, and development of employees. Employees are considered valuable assets to the organization in this climate, so decisions and policies consider their needs.

Rule-Oriented Climate

This type of climate is often found in organizations that highly value efficiency and consistency. Rules and procedures are implemented to ensure that tasks are completed consistently and predictably, with minimal errors or variations.

Innovation-Oriented Climate

In an innovation-oriented climate, employees can explore new ideas and experiment with new approaches without fear of punishment or retribution. They are encouraged to take risks, test new concepts, and learn from mistakes.

Goal-Oriented Climate

The goal-oriented climate is a type of organizational climate focused on achieving specific objectives. In this climate, the organization sets clear, measurable goals for its employees and works together to achieve them. A sense of urgency, accountability, and teamwork characterizes this type of climate.

Different Dimensions

Several dimensions of an organizational climate encompass various factors that contribute to its overall perception. We’ll discuss them below.

Interpersonal Relationships

It refers to the quality of relationships among employees within the organization. Positive interpersonal relationships are essential for creating a supportive, collaborative work environment that promotes productivity and job satisfaction.

The level of trust, respect, and communication among colleagues indicates interpersonal relationships. A positive organizational climate will have employees who are comfortable sharing ideas and feedback and who work together to achieve common goals.

Dominant Orientation

It refers to an organization’s core values, beliefs, and attitudes. These values and beliefs often reflect in employees’ behavior and the managers’ decisions.

For example, an organization with a dominant orientation toward innovation may prioritize creativity, risk-taking, and experimentation. Employees may be encouraged to think outside the box and generate new ideas, while managers may be willing to invest in new technologies or products.

Conflict Management

An organization’s conflict management involves handling conflicts between employees, teams, or departments. Workplace conflict will always exist, but how it’s managed can significantly impact the organization’s overall climate.

Effective conflict management involves several different strategies and techniques. One approach is encouraging open communication between employees to address conflicts before escalating. It might include setting up regular meetings or employee forums where they can voice their concerns and work together to find solutions.

Individual Autonomy

Management trusts employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work in an organization with high individual autonomy. There’s freedom for them to experiment, innovate, and take risks. It can lead to a more creative and dynamic work environment where employees feel empowered to make a difference.

Organizational Control System

It refers to how an organization manages and regulates its employees and their behavior. It includes policies, procedures, rules, and regulations that are put in place to ensure that employees adhere to specific standards and expectations.

The control system can be either formal or informal. Formal control systems include written policies and procedures, performance evaluation systems, and disciplinary actions. On the other hand, informal control systems are more subtle and may consist of unwritten rules and norms enforced through social pressure and peer influence.

Organizational Structure

The organizational structure can significantly impact the organization’s overall climate, as it determines how power and authority are distributed and how communication occurs. Several organizational structures exist, including hierarchical, flat, matrix, and network structures.

Task- or Relations-Oriented Management

One dimension of organizational climate is the management style, which can be task- or relations-oriented. Task-oriented management focuses on achieving specific goals and objectives, often at the expense of employee satisfaction and well-being. Management of this type typically involves strict deadlines, high levels of accountability, and a focus on efficiency and productivity.

On the other hand, relations-oriented management prioritizes building positive relationships with employees and creating a supportive work environment. Relations-oriented managers are often more flexible with deadlines and more willing to prioritize employee well-being over productivity.

Rewards and Punishments

This component of organizational climate involves recognizing good performance and disciplining poor performance among employees. Rewards can include bonuses, promotions, or recognition, while punishments can include reprimands, demotions, or even termination.


Any organization’s success depends on effective communication. It’s exchanging information, ideas, and opinions within an organization. There are several ways to communicate, such as focus groups, face-to-face conversations, or video conferencing.

In a positive organizational climate, communication is open, honest, and transparent. It’s easy for employees to share their thoughts and ideas in the organization. Moreover, leaders communicate regularly with their team members, providing feedback and opportunities for growth and development.


It refers to how an organization encourages and rewards employees for taking risks and making bold decisions. An environment that values risk-taking encourages employees to take calculated risks and doesn’t punish them for making mistakes. It can lead to innovation, creativity, and a willingness to try new things.

How to Improve Organizational Climate

The following strategies can help foster a positive and nurturing work environment:

Analyze the Current Organizational Climate

One way to determine the current organizational climate is through employee surveys. It’s a good idea to conduct anonymous surveys on workplace safety, communication, leadership, job satisfaction, and work-life balance. The survey results will provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s climate.

Develop Behaviors That Reflect the Company’s Values and Goals

One key to improving organizational climate is ensuring employees understand and embody the company’s values and goals. It means translating those values and goals into specific behaviors expected and rewarded within the organization.

Start by clearly defining the company’s values and goals and then identify specific behaviors that align with those values and goals. For example, if one of the company’s values is teamwork, specific behaviors might include collaboration, sharing ideas, and supporting colleagues.

Create a Better Working Environment

Employees spend most of their days at work, and the workplace environment can significantly impact their motivation, productivity, and job satisfaction.

To improve the working environment, start by assessing the current conditions using the following questions: 

  • Are the facilities clean, well-lit, and comfortable? 
  • Is there adequate ventilation and temperature control? 
  • Do the workstations provide the necessary equipment and tools?

Enhance Employee Recognition

Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to be engaged and motivated, increasing productivity and job satisfaction.

Establish a formal recognition program acknowledging employees for their hard work and achievements. It could include awards, bonuses, or just a simple thank-you note. Ensure the recognition is timely and specific so employees know what they are recognized for.

However, recognition doesn’t always have to be formal. Encourage managers and colleagues to give regular feedback and praise for good work. It can be as simple as a verbal acknowledgment in a team meeting or a shoutout in a company newsletter.

Develop Your Leadership Skills

As a leader, you set the tone for the entire organization. Your attitude, behavior, and decisions impact the culture and climate of the workplace. Therefore, developing your leadership abilities to create a positive and productive work environment is crucial.

One way to advance your leadership is to focus on your communication skills. The cornerstone of good leadership is effective communication. It involves listening actively, speaking clearly, and providing feedback to your team.

Encourage Autonomy

Employees who feel trusted and empowered to make their own decisions are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

To promote employee autonomy, delegate tasks and responsibilities and encourage them to take responsibility for their work. It’s essential to provide support and guidance when necessary, but avoid micromanaging and give them the freedom to make decisions and solve problems independently.

Put an Emphasis on Belonging and Inclusion

It’s essential to prioritize diversity, inclusion, and belonging to create a positive working environment. It involves establishing an atmosphere where workers perceive themselves as valued, respected, and included. Workers who feel they belong tend to exhibit higher engagement, productivity, and dedication.

First, assessing the current climate and identifying areas with barriers to inclusion is essential. For example, are there specific groups that are underrepresented or feel excluded? Are there policies or practices that unintentionally exclude certain employees? 

Once you’ve identified these areas, you can make changes to create a more inclusive environment.

Rob Paredes
Article by

Rob Paredes

SafetyCulture Content Contributor
Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. Before joining SafetyCulture, he worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade. Rob's diverse professional background allows him to provide well-rounded, engaging content that can help businesses transform the way they work.