17 Best Company Culture Books to Read in 2021

Home » Books » Company Culture BooksUpdated: September 16, 2021

You found our list of great company culture books.

Company culture books are works that give advice on creating high-performing and engaging work environments. These books discuss organizational values, management techniques, and environmental elements that result in higher job satisfaction and more fully-realized employee potential. The audience for these books is HR Managers, Executives and other organizational leaders.

These books are a subset of books on HR and books on business, and are similar to employee engagement books and books on organizational behavior.

This list includes:

  • organizational culture books
  • books about work environments
  • culture change books
  • books about building company culture

Let’s get to it!

List of company culture books

From bestsellers to new releases, here is a list of the best books on organizational culture.

1. Work Rules! (Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead) by Laszlo Bock

Work Rules!

Work Rules! Is one of the best organizational culture books. Author Laszlo Bock, former head of People Operations at Google, was one of the engineers of the tech titan’s legendary work culture. The book shares personal learnings gleaned from Google’s practices, as well as case studies from other industry greats and behavioral research. Work Rules! provides practical guidance for creating empowering and energized environments.

Notable Quote: “Does your manager trust you?” is a profound question. If you believe people are fundamentally good, and if your organization is able to hire well, there is nothing to fear from giving your people freedom.”

Buy Work Rules!

2. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness

Delivering Happiness is a manifesto on meaningful work. Tony Hsieh explains how he built and scaled an authentic culture at Zappos, a company famous for its positive ethos. Guided by four C’s: Commerce, Customer Service, Company Culture, Community, Zappos created an organization people wanted to work for and buy from. By making organizational happiness a priority, insisting that customer service is the responsibility of every employee, and famously paying $2,000 to encourage unfulfilled team members to leave, the company reinvigorated the idea of corporate culture.

The atmosphere at Zappos lives on as an enduring legacy and testament to the power of productive positivity. Despite Hsieh’s personal tragedy, business leaders can find wisdom in his words and professional practices.

Notable Quote: “For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”

Buy Delivering Happiness.

3. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

The Culture Code

The Culture Code is one of the best books about work environments. The book explores top organizations, both business and non-business, examining what conditions foster optimal unity and cooperation. The author uses a three-pronged approach:build safety, share vulnerability, and establish purpose. Coyle outlines strategies that inspire camaraderie, personal growth, and positive change. The Culture Code teaches readers how to fix harmful cultures and form workplace communities that encourage employees to thrive.

Notable Quote: “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”

Buy The Culture Code.

4. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last made our list of leadership books, and earns its spot in the company culture category. Championing a servant leadership style, Simon Sinek asserts that great cultures depend on generous leaders. Team members feel most valued and fulfilled when leaders elevate the teams’ needs before their own. Leaders Eat Last makes the case that organizations with people-first cultures have higher levels of cooperation and achievement. When employees feel taken care of, they return the favor and commit to the company and the team.

Notable Quote: “Returning from work feeling inspired, safe, fulfilled and grateful is a natural human right to which we are all entitled and not a modern luxury that only a few lucky ones are able to find.”

Buy Leaders Eat Last.

5. No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

No Rules Rules

No Rules Rules is by Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings and business culture writer Erin Meyer. The book tells the story of how Netflix built a culture of flexibility and accountability that emboldens employees to innovate. The company is famous for the Netflix culture deck, a presentation that shares the organization’s core values with employees, partners, and fans of the brand. Explaining this technique and other successful company practices, the authors paint a roadmap for forming an inspiring, high-performance culture that stokes creativity.

Notable Quote: “My goal was to make employees feel like owners and, in turn, to increase the amount of responsibility they took for the company’s success. However, opening company secrets to employees had another outcome: it made our workforce smarter.”

Buy No Rules Rules.

6. Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord

Powerful

Patty McCord is one of the creators of the world-famous Netflix culture deck. In Powerful, she elaborates on Netflix’s culture of freedom and responsibility. The author shares insights like “the greatest motivation is contributing to success,” “communicate constantly about the challenge,” and “make changes fast, and be a great place to be from.” The book focuses on the manager’s responsibilities and behaviors in creating powerful and inventive workplaces.

Notable Quote: “Great teams are not created with incentives, procedures, and perks. They are created by hiring talented people who are adults and want nothing more than to tackle a challenge, and then communicating to them, clearly and continuously, about what the challenge is.”

Buy Powerful.

7. The Culture Blueprint: A Guide to Building the High-Performance Workplace by Robert Richman

The Culture Blueprint

The Culture Blueprint is one of the most straightforward books about building company culture. Author Robert Richman is a culture strategist and a co-founder of Zappos insights, a program renowned for its innovation and outstanding organizational health. The Culture Blueprint breaks down how to design a workplace that attracts and retains top talent and motivates employees to achieve greatness. The book provides a formula to help organizations discover their core values, and management tips to unlock employee’s maximum potential.

Notable Quote: “A less-than-optimal business culture is always the result of many factors that operate together as a system, and they’re usually invisible.”

Buy The Culture Blueprint.

8. The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace by Ron Friedman

The Best Place to Work

The Best Place to Work applies a scientific approach to workplace culture. Drawing on principles on behavioral economics, neurology, and managerial psychology, Ron Friedman shows the subtle ways an office environment can impact employees’ ways of thinking. The book explores topics such as the benefits of rewarding failure, office design’s effect on motivation, and hostage-negotiator-inspired techniques to diffuse workplace conflicts. Balancing between anecdotes and scientific stats, The Best Place to Work is a fascinating look at the underlying influences of company culture.

Notable Quote: “The secret to happy workplaces isn’t spending more money. It’s about creating the conditions that allow employees to do their best work.”

Buy The Best Place to Work.

9. Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them by by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini

Humanocracy

Humanocracy shows leaders how to replace the barriers of bureaucracy with a less-stifling, more human system. The book demonstrates how to energize organizations by offering more autonomy and flexibility. The result of these efforts is increased job satisfaction and creativity, as evidenced by examples of profitable, people-first companies. Offering a clear plan of action, Humanocracy urges readers to persuade colleagues to revamp outdated bureaucratic systems and replace them with more dynamic arrangements.

Notable Quote: “If our organizations are inhuman, it’s because we designed them to be so– whether consciously or not. Every institution is an assemblage of choices about how best to organize human beings in light of some particular goal.”

Buy Humanocracy.

10. Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies by Denise Lee Yohn

Fusion

Consumers demand authenticity from organizations in today’s business landscape. A company cannot advertise themselves as caring and conscientious while allowing a hostile work environment to persist. On the other hand, companies that value employees win shining reputations and lifelong fans.

Fusion shows how paring company culture with brand image makes organizations more beloved, powerful, and profitable. Using a combination of company case studies, executive interviews, and personal experiences, Denise Lee Yohn illustrates how the most admired organizations use brand and culture in tandem. Fusion provides a game plan to maximize the impact of internal and external marketing.

Notable Quote: “Independently, culture and brand are powerful, often unsung, business drivers. But when you fuse the two– when you create an interdependent and mutually reinforcing relationship between how your organization thinks and acts on the inside and how it is perceived and experienced on the outside– you create new growth that isn’t possibly by simply cultivating one or the other alone.”

Buy Fusion.

11. The Culture Question: How to Create a Workplace Where People Like to Work by Randy Grieser, Eric Stutzman, et al

The Culture Question

Via Amazon

The Culture Question explores the factors that cause employees to engage or disengage at work.

According to the authors, healthy workplaces share six key elements:

  • communicating purpose and values
  • providing meaningful work
  • focusing the leadership team on people
  • building meaningful relationships
  • creating peak performing teams
  • practicing constructive conflict management

The book provides guidance for creating these conditions and building places where people love to work.

Notable Quote: “Though organizational culture isn’t a physical thing, you feel it every day in the ways you work and engage with others. Culture is represented in the language you use, the stories you tell, and your daily work practices.”

Buy The Culture Question.

12. The Culture Book: When Culture Clicks (How to Build Incredible Culture from 32 Companies Who Have Done It) by Weeva and Culturati, Patty McCord, et al

The Culture Book

The Culture Book is an anthology of corporate culture greatest hits. The book gathers insights from industry leading individuals and organizations like Patty McCord, Kim Malone Scott, indeed, and Buffer. Each contributor shares an essential element of successful company culture, imparting wisdom such as “practice culture every day,” and “leadership starts with listening.” The Culture Book offers a well-rounded approach to the subject of working climate by providing 30 differing takes on the topic.

Notable Quote: “Culture is the operating system of our organizations. It’s the way our people work together. It’s the collection of habits that reflect our real values and beliefs and guide decisions in the absence of explicit rules, the practices that turn experience into a competitive edge. Culture determines what our organizations are capable of.”

Buy The Culture Book.

13. Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates by by Karin Hurt and David Dye

Courageous Cultures

Courageous Cultures explains how to create an environment where employees are not afraid to share opinions and ideas. While most organizations claim to value worker insight, many fail to make employees feel heard and valued. Courageous Cultures shows how a culture of openness empowers employees to solve problems and make improvements that benefit the company’s efficiency and bottom line. The book teaches managers how to act to make employees feel safe in sharing new ideas or valid concerns.

Notable Quote: “A courageous culture is a place where “people like us” speak up. We share ideas. We solve problems. The default is to contribute. It’s a culture where silence isn’t safe and effort is everything. Courageous Cultures go way beyond employee engagement. People are energized. They bring their whole selves to their work. Innovation isn’t limited to the senior leadership team or R&D. Everyone innovates, every day.”

Buy Courageous Cultures.

14. The Culture Quotient: Ten Dimensions of a High-Performance Culture by Greg Besner

The Culture Quotient

The Culture Quotient describes the ten key qualities of organizations with high-performance cultures. The book illustrates these characteristics by telling stories from over 40 industry-leading organizations like Slack, Warby Parker, Ikea, and American Express. Author Greg Besner consulted with many of these businesses through his company CultureIQ, and had a direct hand in creating their work environments. The Culture Quotient shows how to recreate winning cultures in any organization by assembling the basic building blocks of dynamic environments.

Notable Quote: “Together, the mission and values compose the company’s unique identity and way of operating. 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.”

Buy The Culture Quotient.

15. The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change: Creating a Workplace That Delivers, Grows, and Adapts by Siobhan McHale

The Insider's Guide to Culture Change

Culture change books teach readers how to adjust and rebuild existing work environments. The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change is a handbook for diagnosing disconnects and improving under-performing cultures. The book shows how to rally the entire organization, follow a plan of action, and maintain positive change. The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change explains how to understand the root causes of malfunction, persuade resisters, measure results, and enact policies that support desirable work climates.

Notable Quote: “In today’s hyperconnected world of instantaneous global communication, massive market disruptions, the expansion of an all-powerful urban consumer class, conflicts within the multigenerational workforce, and increasingly strict laws and regulations governing corporate behavior in some countries, it takes more than pretty words to instill the values that will successfully steer a company through volatile and uncertain times.”

Buy The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change.

16. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick M. Lencioni

The Advantage

If Patrick Lencioni’s name sounds familiar, then it might be because his “Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” made our list of team building books. Lencioni is a renowned author in the field of business management and ideology. In this work, the author turns his attention to company culture. The Advantage explains that strong, united cultures give companies an edge. Organizations with loyal, satisfied, and passionate employees and customers are the ones that weather diversity and continue to innovate. The book lays out steps to achieve organizational health through four disciplines: build a cohesive leadership team, create clarity, over-communicate clarity, and reinforce clarity.

Notable Quote: “The only way for the leader of a team to create a safe environment for his team members to be vulnerable is by stepping up and doing something that feels unsafe and uncomfortable first. By getting naked before anyone else, by taking the risk of making himself vulnerable with no guarantee that other members of the team will respond in kind, a leader demonstrates an extraordinary level of selflessness and dedication to the team. And that gives him the right, and the confidence, to ask others to do the same.”

Buy The Advantage.

17. Radical Candor by Kim Malone Scott

Radical Candor

Radical Candor advocates for an atmosphere of honesty and openness in the workplace. The book offers a framework for being a better boss and colleague by telling the truth. Kim Malone Scott argues that you have a responsibility to be direct with coworkers, but you do not have to lose your humanity in the process. Radical Candor urges bosses to simultaneously care for and challenge employees, being both blunt and compassionate. Adopting this attitude will inspire staff to be straightforward and will foster a more candid culture throughout the company.

Notable Quote: “When bosses are too invested in everyone getting along they also fail to encourage the people on their team to criticize one another other for fear of sowing discord. They create the kind of work environment where being “nice” is prioritized at the expense of critiquing and therefore improving actual performance.”

Buy Radical Candor.

Conclusion

Every leader has a distinct perspective about what makes a company culture successful. However, healthy workplaces share certain similarities, such as worker autonomy, open communication, clear direction, genuine relationships, and aligned values.

Creating, scaling, and maintaining an authentic culture is an ongoing and intentional process. As the business landscape and global climate changes, corporate culture needs to grow to fit worker needs and desires.

Reading organizational culture books helps professionals gain the skills and mindsets necessary to make their companies great places to work. The effort to support employees ultimately pays off, as companies with great work cultures see reduced turnover, inspire more brand loyalty, and are better equipped to weather inevitable adversity.

For more reading recommendations, check out our lists of CEO books, management books, non-profit books, and books on teamwork.

FAQ: Company culture books

Here are answers to common questions about company culture books.

What are company culture books?

Company culture books are publications that explain how to create healthy and positive organizational atmospheres. These books delve into company values and priorities, managerial tactics, and employee engagement strategies. The purpose of workplace culture books is to teach individuals how to create environments that challenge and inspire employees.

What are the best company culture books?

The best company culture books give examples and outcomes of productive corporate culture and offer guidance on how to achieve these ends. Some good company culture books include Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, Powerful by Patty McCord, and The Advantage by Patrick M. Lencioni.

Why should you read books on company culture?

Reading books on company culture offers multiple perspectives. Every leader has their own unique viewpoint which can help inform your own approach. There is no one right tactic for company culture, but rather the method that best fits your own organization. These books are full of ideas and lessons from the world’s corporate culture leaders and provide valuable wisdom.

P.S: Press "CTRL + D" or "Command + D" to bookmark this page - we update it often.

Share this article:

avatar
Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

LinkedIn icon
Young woman with headphones, doing activities with colleagues on a Zoom call.

100% Online Team Building Activities

We run world class online team building events that remote teams love. Rated 5 Stars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Best Virtual Team Building

To be a little obvious, teambuilding.com is a team building company.

And a darn good one... we hire brilliant people, provide extensive training, and develop one of a kind experiences.

In 2021, we are running virtual events for teams all over the world.

And when there isn't a global pandemic, we do local activities too.