Understanding organizational culture can help you find the perfect job. Culture reveals more about employee morale and company values. Businesses with a healthy, productive culture are more successful because employees have guidance, a shared mindset and can work well as a team. An organization's culture can be a determining factor in how long you stay, so it's essential to find a company culture that's right for you. Discover what organizational culture is and how you can use it to find the right professional fit.
What is organizational culture?
Organizational culture is the shared beliefs, attitudes and expectations within the company. It's dependent on both the employers and the employees and affects the day-to-day operations. Companies with successful organizational cultures have higher employee engagement rates and, as a result, better productivity.
A company's mission and vision statements reveal a lot about its organizational culture because they outline the common goals. The values of the entire professional team are what creates culture and are achieved by everyone together.
Why does organizational culture matter?
Culture is social, which is why it's so important to find a culture you can identify with. The attitudes of the people around you dictate your overall job satisfaction. It doesn't matter how high your salary might be; working for a company that makes you look forward to going to work every day makes all the difference.
By investigating a company before you apply or during the interview process, you can learn a lot about a company's culture and determine whether it's right for you.
Finding employees who fit in with the company culture is also beneficial for employers. Finding people with a shared passion drives their business forward.
Some aspects of company culture
There are countless factors that all come together to create an organization's culture. But some of the most important ones include:
- Attitude: the atmosphere in the workplace. Are employees happy, do they work well as a team?
- Behaviour: how are employees expected to behave? Does that align with your personality and career development goals?
- Beliefs: what does the company stand for? Are their products or services something you believe in?
- Corporate responsibility: does the company give back to the community? Are there environmental initiatives, fundraising efforts, or awareness campaigns?
- Motivation: is the company motivated by profits or the greater good? Are you motivated in the same way?
How to find the right culture for you
A company's organizational culture won't be stated in big, bold letters at the top of every job post, though that would be nice! But, if you know where and what to look for it can be easy to evaluate a company's culture before being hired. Here are three key methods to guide your search:
1. Read the job description closely
The tone and choice of words in a job description can be great indicators of organizational culture. For example, words like dominant, targets and competitive are indicators of a culture focused on converting hard work into revenue. They may mention working nights and weekends. That type of environment suits like-minded people but might be intense for others. If you're looking for a culture that supports diversity, flexible working, and social activities, then look out for those keywords in a job description.
Related: How to Write a Job Description
2. Use social media
Review the company's social media pages to see what content they're posting, read any customer reviews, and see how they engage with their followers. Social media reveals a lot about how the company chooses to present itself publicly, reflecting the internal culture as well. If diversity and inclusion or environmental issues are important to you, see if an organization shares anything related to these topics on their social media channels.
Depending on the size of the company, Reddit may even have pages dedicated to employees or customers. You may find valuable comments, questions, and opinions from existing or ex-employees.
3. Search for the mission or vision statements
A mission statement defines what an organization does and what motivates them. An effective mission statement should also motivate the employees and guide them towards a common goal. It also offers great insight into the culture. Mission and vision statements are one to two-sentence summaries and often shared on a company's website. They may be short, but they provide you with an overall idea of what the business is striving for. You can use those summaries to decide if your values align with the company.
Clues that indicate a healthy organizational culture
Excellent company culture means employees are engaged and feel like they're part of a whole. Some companies organize internal events during and outside of regular operating hours. Such as Christmas and other holiday parties, Pride month activities, family fun days, or team-building activities. Events are just one form of evidence that an employer cares about the wellbeing of their staff and company morale.
Personal development opportunities
Competent employers want to see their staff succeed. A company that offers tools for personal development, promotions, and learning opportunities is interested in its employees and supportive of career advancement. A good company culture gives people room to grow and, in turn, fosters job satisfaction.
Employee retention is a good indicator of organizational culture, as people tend to stay in jobs where they're happy and feel valued. Company websites always have an "About Us" section, which sometimes has a section with profile pictures and short staff bios. See if they include how long those employees have been with the company. You can also check LinkedIn to review employee retention as well. The amount of time someone has been with a company is listed clearly in the "Experience" section of their profile.
Evaluating organizational culture in the interview process
Even after researching and applying for a job, there may still be some unanswered questions about a company's culture. The best way to learn more about it is to hear it from the source.
The interview process is a great time to ask some additional questions regarding the culture. This also lets the hiring manager know that you're interested in contributing to the culture and working as an active member of the team. Some questions to ask include:
- How would you describe the corporate culture?
- What do you like about working here?
- How are achievements recognized or celebrated?
- How are the workspaces arranged?
- How would you rate the company's work-life balance?
- What do you wish you'd known before you started working here?
- How often does the office or company meet together?
- How long have you been with the company?
- What personalities generally succeed here?
You can also make some observations of your own. The ultimate way to understand a company's organizational culture is, of course, to live it. But instead of waiting until you start working to learn about the culture, you can make some observations during the interview process. Some things to take note of include:
- If you get a tour of the office, observe the workspace set up. Are the kitchen or lounge areas are comfortable and designed as communal spaces to socialize in and share.
- Notice how employees respond to you. Are they welcoming? Do they look happy to be there?
- What is their body language like when they interact with each other? Do people seem friendly with one another?
- Yes, a strong organizational culture can be measured by how organized they are. Is the receptionist expecting you? Does the interviewer arrive on time, and are they prepared for your meeting? Organized employees are a good indicator that they're not being overworked and enjoy what they do for a living.
The senior management team, high-level executives, or owner's involvement varies significantly from small to large size companies. But employees in positions of power should be driven and approachable to maintain a strong corporate culture. See if you get the opportunity to meet with anyone from the senior management team. Or ask the hiring manager about the company structure to see how involved the owners are in the workplace. Try to get an idea of how the rest of the team perceives them.
Learning about a company's organizational culture before you apply for or accept a job is a great way to ensure you find a good fit. The culture reveals a lot about what your day-to-day activities look like and how much job satisfaction you'll have. Businesses with a healthy organizational culture are more productive because everyone is working towards a common goal. Finding a culture that's the right fit for your values and beliefs is a key step in furthering your career and driving your success.