Organizational Climate

What Is Organizational Climate?

Climate—in natural sense—is referred to as the average course or condition of the weather at a place over a period of years as exhibited by temperature, wind velocity, and precipitation.

Organizational climate refers to a set of characteristics which are relatively enduring over-time,

The definition, suggests that climate is determined by the normative behavioral standards and attitude which direct activity within the organization and on the basis of which the individual may interpret the situation.

Meyer (1975) puts emphasis upon management style and the policies and operating conditions of the organization. It is this set of characteristics or properties that distinguish the organization from other organizations and that influence the behavior of people in the organization. Thus, the organizational climate has a significant effect on organizational behavior.

Important Hint

Like the air in a room, which is always there, but cannot be seen or touched; a person cannot see climate or touch it because it is intuitively discerned rather than something that is cognitively recognized. It surrounds and affects everything that happens in an organization. In turn, climate is affected by almost everything that occurs in an organization.

Some notable researchers have also given varied definitions of organizational climate:

Campbell et al (1970) define organizational climate as a “set of attributes specific to a particular organization that may be induced from the way that organization deals with its members and its environment.”

Litwin and Stringer (1968) defined it as “the perceived, subjective effect of the formal system, the informal style of managers, and other important environmental factors on the attitudes, beliefs, values and motivation of people who work in a particular organization”.

According to Schneider and Hall (1972), climate perceptions emerge as a result of the person’s numerous activities, interactions, feelings and other daily experiences in the organization.

Accordingly, organizational climate may be construed as the personality of an organization as perceived by its employees. The totality of personality of individuals working in the organization has an impact on it and also the climate that emerges within an organization represents a major determinant of employees’ behavior.

Organizations, like fingerprints and snowflakes, are always unique. Each has its own culture, traditions, and methods of action which, in their totality constitute its climate. Some organizations are bustling and efficient, others are easy going. An organization tends to attract and keep people who fit its climate, so that its patterns are to some extent perpetuated.

Elements of Favorable Organizational Climate

Organizational climate can range along a continuum from favorable to neutral to unfavorable. Both employers and employees want a more favorable climate because of its benefits, such as better performance and job satisfaction.

Employees feel that the climate is favorable when they are doing something useful that provides a sense of personal worth. They frequently want challenging work that is intrinsically satisfying. Most of the employees also want responsibility. They want to be listened to and treated as if they have value as individuals. They want to feel that the organization really cares about their needs and problems.

Several typical factors that contribute to a favorable climate are highlighted as follows:

  • Quality of leadership
  • Amount of trust
  • Effective Communication flow, including upward   Opens in new window and downward   Opens in new window
  • Feeling of useful work
  • Responsibility
  • Fair rewards
  • Responsible job pressures
  • Opportunity
  • Reasonable controls, structure, and bureaucracy
  • Employee involvement and participation
Typical Elements that Contribute to a Favorable Climate — (Muchinsky, 1977; Hall and Schneider, 1972).