Finding a company culture that suits you is important. It plays a key role in your happiness at work. Company culture consists of more than just the way a business operates on a daily basis. The ethos, mission, work environment and management style of a company all combine to form a “culture”. We spend five days a week in our offices, wouldn't it be a good idea to discover which company culture suits you best?
Why is company culture important?
Culture is used as the main differentiator to attract talent, and most companies take their culture very seriously. With more online visibility and a heavy emphasis on employer branding, a company culture is now more obvious than ever. Company culture can affect your satisfaction, performance and career progression. You could be attracted to a tech startup like Uber because of their work-hard-play-hard mantra, but that comes with a fast-paced and fluid work environment. This kind of culture isn’t for everyone. What type of culture suits you?, You should do your due diligence before making a commitment to a new company.
What are the different types of company cultures?
Company culture is formed naturally depending on the industry that the organization is operating in, how long it’s been established for and their management style. There are so many different types of company culture that it’s difficult to categorize all of them. Here are a couple of broad examples:
Hierarchical versus flat:
The extent to which a company adopts a hierarchical or flat culture tends to depend on the size of the company. Typically, small companies and startups will have flat structures where employees are given more control and decision-making authority. This is because the company is shifting direction and internal processes continuously as they begin to find their feet. As the company grows, more layers of management are introduced, and employees are presented with more structured reporting lines. When the business reaches this point, it’s important to maintain a culture where employees feel that their needs and ideas are still being valued. Effective management and leadership are imperative to making sure this happens.
Traditional versus progressive:
Some companies place a heavy emphasis on team performance through regular meetings and social / team building events. You might expect to see open-plan offices absent of the desk “cubicles” in this type of culture. Others adopt a more individualist or corporate culture, where employees are left to their own devices to achieve success whichever way suits them. The former tends to be a characteristic of a progressive or “modern” culture, and latter is more traditionalist.
The culture we see being adopted by many young tech companies in recent times is one where the business is extremely tight-knit to form an environment focused on innovation. The team is encouraged to be close inside and outside of work, and extensive perks are provided, such as free lunches, gym memberships, and even massages! Of course, this kind of culture only works with certain types of companies. More traditional companies like consultancies and law firms unsurprisingly assume a corporate culture due to the way the organization is structured.
Is a companies culture right for you?
It might not seem like the easiest thing to understand, but with a little research, you can get a handle on culture and what's right for you pretty quickly.
Whether you’ve been approached by a recruiter or are looking at applying to the company yourself, go online and do some research. This involves more than simply checking out their company website. We suggest using Glassdoor, a fantastic resource with first-hand accounts from current and ex-employees. It’s essentially Trip Advisor for the business world. Reading lots of different reviews from people who have worked there is an excellent way to gain a general idea about the company work environment.
It’s also worth checking out the company’s social and professional online presence. Look up their LinkedIn company profile, Twitter and Facebook accounts. These channels are typically where companies are most active. Are they making a conscious effort to engage with their audience? Are they posting regular, professional updates? If so, you can presume that the company is forward-thinking and staying up-to-date with changes in the modern business world. If the company lacks any online presence, then perhaps they adopt a more traditional working culture. It’s up to you to decide which style you prefer.
Request an in-office interview
When it comes to the interview stage, the research doesn’t stop there. Obviously, we understand that sometimes interviewees prefer to meet in a neutral location, especially if the company you’re interviewing with is a competitor. But where possible, try to ask if the interview can be conducted at the office. Some interviewers will give you the grand tour of the office, and this is one of the best ways to determine the real culture of a company, rather than the image they try to project. Is the office open plan or segregated? Does senior management sit with the rest of the office, or are they blocked off? Do they have any socializing areas? Do any of the employees engage with you? Imagine yourself sat at one of the desks and decided if you can really see yourself being happy there.
Interview the interviewer
While most of the focus is placed on you during the interview, remember that the hiring process is a two-way street. You also need to decide if the company is a good match with you. Grab the opportunity to do some more digging at the end of the interview where you’re asked if you’ve got any questions. The saying goes that ‘everyone’s favorite subject is themselves.' Use this to your advantage and ask the interviewer what his / her favorite thing is about working at the company. They might talk about team camaraderie, having their ideas valued and respected, workplace independence or strong leadership. If their answer resonates with you, then you know you’re on the right track.
If you’re still struggling to figure out what kind of culture is the best fit for you, ask yourself a couple of these questions:
Do I prefer to work independently or in a team?
Do I enjoy socializing outside of working hours?
Is regular performance feedback an important contributor to my happiness at work?
Is a relaxed, creative environment or a corporate, formal environment more attractive to me?
Do I place a lot of emphasis on regular training activities?
What kind of leadership style do I prefer?
One of the most important things to remember about company culture is that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes down to deciding what’s best for you.
We’re always on hand to help if you need some advice about finding your perfect culture fit. Feel free to contact our experts anytime at [email protected]