When it comes to finding a job, it can be alluring to focus on salary, the challenges of the role and even the company brand. But it also pays to consider cultural fit to be sure you’re working alongside like-minded people in a company that shares your values and attitudes.
Find the right cultural fit – enjoy greater job satisfaction
Taking the time to evaluate the workplace culture of a company can pay off. Research by the University of Iowa found employees who blend well with company culture – and their co-workers, enjoy higher levels of job satisfaction, achieve better performance and are also more likely to stay with the company for the long term. This was supported by our own research, It's time we all work happy: The secrets of the happiest companies and employees which found that those who feel that their skills and experience are not well matched to the job, are ultimately most likely to leave. Those sort of findings make it worth a company offers the right fit for you personally.
Define what you’re looking for
Cultural fit doesn’t mean everyone who works for the organisation is the same. It’s more about knowing the type of environment in which you will thrive. Even in very diverse workplaces, employees can share the same goals, values and attitudes as their organisation. That’s why it is worth having a sense of the type of corporate culture you’re looking for and what matters to you most.
It may be that you want access to the latest and greatest technology, or a company that has a creative work environment. You may want to work for an organisation that places a high priority on sustainability. Or the way employees are treated and valued through benefits, training and other perks may be top of your list for a positive workplace culture.
Do some background research
Taking the time to investigate an organisation always make sense as part of the job search process, and adding company culture to your research list can help you gauge what sort of environment really prevails.
Social media can be useful here. Take a look at LinkedIn for example, to review the profiles of key employees. Be mindful of the tone they use, and whether it suggests passion for their workplace. Consider if these are people you could learn from or would like to work with.
If the company has a Facebook page, take a look and see how it engages with customers to get an idea of the personality behind the brand. Or visit the photo gallery on the company’s website for a behind-the-scenes look at how employees interact.
Develop interview questions around company culture
The job interview offers additional opportunities to learn more about an organisation’s culture. For example, go beyond typical interview questions, and ask “How does your team celebrate the successful completion of a challenging project?” Or, “How does your team relieve stress during a difficult assignment?” Finally, ask “Why do you like working here?” These questions may seem bold, but don’t be afraid to pose them. It’s better to determine a good cultural fit now rather than discovering a cultural fit mismatch later on.
During your interview, ask for a tour of the office. Make sure you at least see the area in which you would be working. In particular, pay attention to how people are interacting with each other. Does the workplace seem collaborative, with people smiling and talking to each other? Do people acknowledge you or do they have their heads down, busy at work? Be realistic about how you see yourself being able to work in this environment.
Trust your own instincts
If you are uncertain about whether you would be comfortable working at a company after visiting it in person, go back online. Look at reviews of the company to get some other opinions. If there is a good mix of comments, they are probably accurate. A small number of angry posts could just indicate one dissatisfied employee, so don’t read too much into it.
A skilled recruitment professional can also provide useful perspectives on a company’s corporate culture, and will have a strong sense of which types of people will relish various types of workplaces.
A little research coupled with some pointed questions and careful observation can help you decide whether an employer offers the sort of culture fit where you can thrive both personally and professionally.
Take the Quiz
You’ve focused on cultural fit within the workplace and understand how to identify this, but what about the bigger picture? Is the job role even right for you? Take our quiz and discover whether it’s a good match or not.