When looking for a job, people often consider the following factors: the company’s reputation, the position’s suitability, salary and benefits. Job hunters often overlook one other crucial aspect: the culture of the company you want to work for.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be as important as your salary or position, but in truth, it influences all the other things you look for in a company.
What is company culture in the first place? It’s the shared goals, values, beliefs, habits, communication styles and the like of everyone who works for the company. It’s the underlying force that dictates the vision and behavior of a company. It pretty much dictates the way people think and act at work.
The company's culture is an intangible factor that can make or break your stay with a company. No matter how prestigious the company is or how much of an asset you will be, it will be hard to succeed if you can’t fit in with the company culture.
Think of how vast the difference is between working at an open-space, casually-dressed start-up versus working at a traditional, corporate attire-wearing accounting firm. Both company cultures work, but it’s a matter of finding which one will work for you.
At an interview, you won’t be the only one thinking of company culture. The HR staff and your potential supervisor are also checking if you will be a good fit with the company.
If you need a little bit more help understanding this intangible X factor and why it will be so important to you, read up on a few reasons why company culture should be one of your deciding factors in saying yes to a job offer.
It determines how long you stay on the job
A solid company culture fosters the kind of environment that will make employees want to stay. Seeing a future in the company you work for is crucial for employee retention.
If a company has a strong corporate culture, employees feel that they have a system they can identify with and will guide them when they make big decisions.
A company that doesn’t prioritize work culture will be less attractive to employees and will make it hard to retain their employees. A strong company culture adds value because it serves as a guide or code of conduct that employees can always consult. It adds integrity to the job because employees feel empowered to make decisions based on the company’s vision and they know they can count on help when they need it most.
On the flip side, if you find that you can’t identify with the culture that a company has, it will be difficult to see yourself having a future there. For example, if you’re the kind of person who wants an environment of open communication between employees and upper management alike, and you work for a company that has a strong emphasis on hierarchy, then you will probably struggle working there long-term.
It influences employee dynamics
The kind of culture that a company fosters influences the kind of relationships that employees have with each other. If the upper management often keeps crucial company information from its employees, there will be a tendency for that secretiveness to permeate across the company. If supervisors encourage open communication across all company levels, then employees will be more open to sharing their thoughts.
Ideally, your company’s culture cultivates three important factors:
- There is open and honest communication between all employees and managers. Each employee should feel like he or she is being heard and feel like their opinions matters. At the same time, managers should be forthcoming and make it a point to keep their people in the loop when it comes to important matters.
- Employees should be flexible to changes in the industry, as well as to changes in technology. The company must be able to guide employees through various changes and prioritize their ability to adapt to ensure that they are doing their best work and don’t feel adrift.
- Everyone should feel like they are part of a team. Each employee is a member of a multi-faceted team of professionals. While everyone has a different function or responsibility, they should all still be able to support each other if one of them is in need. They should understand that it’s not just about doing well on their own, but helping each other do well to create a successful organization.
It helps boost employee happiness
Keeping employees happy will benefit everyone’s best interests: Happy employees find meaning in their work and are more productive and efficient, which will help the business. Research shows that employee happiness increases workplace productivity by 12%. Happy employees also stay at their companies much longer than unhappy workers.
The secret to happy employees is motivating them to do their best work and by prioritizing their personal fulfillment. A company that visibly cares for their employees will have content employees than companies with a culture of just-do-the-work-and-get-paid.
While getting a higher salary does help keep employees happy, it will only work for a short while. Ultimately, money can’t make up for an unsatisfactory work culture. Putting the employee at the center of the company’s culture will help foster a positive work environment.
If you’re new to the job hunt, you probably won’t see the importance of company culture just yet. But anyone who’s ever worked for a company will tell you that it’s one of the biggest factors in staying or leaving a job. A company that cares about its employees will produce employees that are happy and ready to put in the hard work for the company.
*Photo at the Kalibrr office by Alessio Biribicchi