The right company culture can make or break your career satisfaction and happiness levels. It’s a big deal and it’s why many organizations devote significant time and resources into getting their culture ‘right’. The key for you is to find a company where their idea of the right company culture matches yours. Ping-Pong tables and Zen rooms may be very enticing, but what will make you happy in the long run is working in an environment that fits with your values, and for an organization you can grow with. So before you join an organization, do some digging to figure out what, exactly, the company culture is, and then think about whether it’s the right environment for you. Here are three things to consider as you make your decision:
What Motivates You?
The right company culture helps you do your best work. For some people, a beautiful office with floor-to-ceiling windows does wonders for their productivity. For others, the newest technology and working with cutting edge processes are what inspires them to be their best. To figure out what type of company culture really motivates you, think about a time when you were extremely productive. What was special about that situation? What role did the physical workspace play in your motivation level? Who were you working with and how did those interactions contribute to your productivity? Were you working alone or with others? Did you have a looming deadline or generous time freedom? Were you dealing with people or with the product? Ask yourself these questions and more. Then, do the same thing, but with a situation in which you were horribly unproductive. In short, try to pinpoint what helps you do your best work (and your worst). Having an idea about what is right for you and then seeing if it aligns with your prospective employer’s work culture is the first step in deciding whether this new job is for you or not.
What Makes You Happy?
What makes you happy at work and what motivates you may or may not cover the same attributes. Autonomy, for example, could be both motivating and satisfying. But that’s not always the case. Working under pressure, for instance, might motivate you, but it might not be something that you particularly enjoy. The right company culture is the one where you are happy and content as well as motivated. Figuring out what that means is not always straightforward because noticing what makes us happy is often less obvious than what makes us unhappy. In this case, working backwards is often easier. Are you super cranky in the morning? Maybe you would appreciate a later start or a more flexible schedule. Is your day incomplete without witty banter about the current state of the world? Knowing the interests of your colleagues will be important in your decision. Do you feel like an empty husk of a person if you can’t get in a quick run in the middle of the day? A company that incorporates exercise into its workweek might just be the thing for you. It’s easy to be dazzled by perks like catered lunches and beer on tap, but don’t let them tempt you into a workplace that is actually ill suited for maximizing your own personal happiness.
What is the Lifestyle Fit?
You’ve gone through the whole interview process, and presumably the hiring manager believes you are a good cultural fit. Now it’s your turn to see if the position is a good fit for your life. The job may be fantastic, but if it ends up being really taxing on the lifestyle you want, it could be a bigger problem that you realize.
Is the workplace flexible enough for you?
Does it provide enough time off for you to recharge your batteries?
Does it respect your personal choices and priorities?
Does it welcome diverse thoughts and experiences?
These are the sorts of cultural issues that have a significant impact on finding the right company culture for you. For example, the culture might be that no one leaves before the CEO or that everyone gets kicked out of the building at 6 PM. It may be that most people work from home and interact virtually, or you may be expected to work from the office with very few exceptions. At some workplaces, everyone bonds over daily, catered meals—which sounds nice, unless you’d rather spend breakfast with your family or you need a quiet lunch break alone to decompress. When you’re thinking about company culture, it’s not just what will keep you happy at work—it’s also what will keep you happy at home. Don’t neglect that bit.
In the end, finding the right company culture for you comes down to understanding what your career values are. It might seem awfully self-important to consider all this before accepting a job offer, especially if you’ve just gone through a gruelling job search, but realistically you’ll be back in the job market a lot sooner than you’d like to be if you don’t think about the type of environment that will make you happy and set you up for success. So, go ahead—be a little self-indulgent and make finding the right company culture a priority for you. Just think of it as doing future-you a favour!
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® is the Global Authority on Workplace Culture. We make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.