Job Seekers focus on a number of items when evaluating opportunities during his/her job search. It is easy to focus on the most obvious tangible items such as pay, benefits, schedule, and commute. Some Job Seekers will even take their evaluation a step further, by thinking about whether there is a connection with their supervisor. A critical aspect of a job, however, is the company culture, and it is something that is often not evaluated by someone looking for new employment.
Omitting culture from a job evaluation probably occurs for a number of reasons. The most basic is that it is hard to quantify. It is easy to evaluate pay, your work schedule, and commute. Evaluating benefit plans may require a little more effort but is still very doable. It is much more challenging to assess something that is not tangible, like the culture of a company.
Employees also can be too quick to dismiss the importance of company culture. We are conditioned to believe that increased compensation or a better benefit program can offset any concerns we may have regarding the company. This is especially true as you get older and become responsible for other family members and, therefore, make your own needs secondary to your decision making. Unfortunately, it is not that easy, as money does not make you feel better if your job is making you miserable.
In order to assess the culture of a company, you need a basic understanding of what is meant by the term. By definition, culture is determined by the environment in which employees work. Culture is then determined by a number of elements within it. In my mind, the best way to try to do this is break down culture into elements that are as tangible as possible. Let’s examine some of these elements now in terms of evaluating your next job opportunity.
• Work Environment: This is probably the element that is most commonly considered to be part of company culture. It is (unfortunately), also one of the hardest to define because it consists of such a widely diverse set of items. The “work environment” can be physical such as lighting, air quality, space, noise level, etc. So, if you are someone who prefers a traditional office setting, then a location not as established will probably not be to your liking. On the other end of the spectrum, it can also be areas such as “work perks” that may include such things as free coffee, water, and snacks. If you’re used to your company providing these items to you, then you may feel that an employer that does not is “cheap” or not employee friendly. Parking can be a huge item in WNY. Be clear before accepting the offer if free parking is available and how accessible it
• Company Mission/Values/Ethics: While these three items are not all the same, they share many of the same characteristics. A growing number of job seekers are requiring a certain standard from their employer. It is important to know what is important to your prospective employer. For many, it has to be more than the product it makes or the service it provides. It should be fairly easy to find out online about a company in this area. Of course, an organization that takes this topic seriously should also market to job seekers where they stand and what they believe in.
• Leadership Style/Philosophy and Communication: It is important to assess your immediate supervisor, but (on a greater scale) does this person personify the leadership group as a whole? This is important as leaders change. So, if you have a leader who is a good fit due to their collegial and collaborative style, but the company is typically very autocratic, then this may not be a good long-term fit. Related to this topic is also communication style. Most employees want to be communicated to and be “in the know” regarding company activity.
• Policies: This one can be a hard one to assess, as not many organizations share policy handbooks during the recruiting process. You may, however, be able to obtain some read regarding whether the company policies match your personality and needs. It may be as simple as dress code, as some people like to be very casual, while others want to “dress for success”. An item as basic as this can be very telling regarding whether the culture will work for you.
• Expectations and Goals: Different companies are in various stages of their life cycle and with this comes different goals and (sometimes) expectations. All job seekers should self-evaluate where they are in their career and life, to determine the expectations that are the best fit. A work-life balance that meets the needs of the person will often override any compensation offered.
There are so many aspects to evaluating a prospective new employer. It is critical to look beyond the most obvious tangible aspects and focus on the culture of this company. Even if the compensation and benefits, etc. are exciting, you should take a close look at the culture of the organization to make sure you are a good fit. It is almost impossible to be satisfied and engaged in your position regardless if the culture is not for you.
As always, the best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein