Decoding company culture – what is it, and how do you find the right one for you?
In an increasingly competitive market, creating an influential company culture is steadily making its way up the list of priorities for employers and job seekers alike. From a candidate perspective, having an awareness of what this concept means and how businesses differentiate themselves can allow you to find the ideal place to grow, both professionally and personally. For millennials, more so than any other generation so far, company culture is a deciding factor in their job search.
The bar has been raised for quite some time: it’s no longer about just getting a job, but about getting a job that you will love. Beyond pay, the prestige of working in a particular
industry or having an impressive title, employees want to find real meaning in their work and a sense of identity in the companies that they're part of. As such, although businesses operate under a profit motive, the demands of a new workforce and increased competition means that there needs to be a purpose beyond profit.
Rather than treating them as opposites, some of today’s most influential businesses have acknowledged the deep connection between profit and purpose and have embedded this into their culture. They have shaped their ethos to a concept that their teams strongly identify with and feel motivated by.
Company culture is a combination of values, objectives, attitudes and behaviours. It serves the purpose of aligning employees with a mission and ensures that everyone stays focused and motivated. Very importantly, it creates a safe space where open and honest conversations can be had, where people feel valued and genuinely listened to. When an employee feels that their needs and goals are in harmony with those of the organisation, they’ll be that much more inspired to contribute.
Whether you’re fresh out of university or are a more experienced candidate, company culture is a crucial factor to consider in your search for a role. Throughout an interview process,
it’s just as essential to probe around culture as it is to understand the day to day of the job itself. Company trips, team building activities, away-days or other social activities are a great way to strengthen relationships and make everyone feel appreciated, but they do not make up the culture of a company in themselves. To find the best match, you need to go a few steps further and ask meaningful questions at the interview, for example: Why do you like working here? How collaborative are the different teams? Is regular feedback encouraged? How does the company celebrate achievements? How does the team handle and overcome disagreement or conflict? What learning and development opportunities are there for employees?
It doesn't matter if you have the same background as the people that you’re interviewing with or like to spend your free time in the same way. It’s about finding a team that is energised, focused and passionate and going into a nurturing environment that values talent although companies can achieve these things in their distinctive ways. In addition to doing your research and asking some key questions, listen to your instincts and you’ll be one step closer to finding the right fit.