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What is Company Culture and Why Does It Matter?

Posted by ICS Canada

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Culture in a corporate context is most easily defined as “a shared set of beliefs, values, and practices.” A strong company culture provides clearly stated value sets and examples of how to work to exemplify those values. This in no way means that a company can or will expect you to share the same overarching worldview of its CEO or executive team; in fact, that’s an example of a toxic culture that should be avoided. However, hiring managers do look for new hires that they believe will seamlessly find a comfortable place within the company, benefitting the business and preventing needless turnover. But why does that matter and how can you identify a strong or toxic company culture when you’re interviewing?

A defined culture shows you what kind of things will be expected of you should you be hired. While the concept of corporate culture isn’t exactly new, it has become trendy in the last few years. This could be attributed to mammoth international companies like Amazon and Google, which each have a very definite corporate personality. Before attending an interview (honestly, before even submitting an application) you should have done some research on the company you’re interested in working for. If you’ve done your research, you’ll have found a mission statement or some description of the culture. Based on that, you can get a decent idea of what will be expected of you, generally, as part of that company. This could be something straightforward such as “dedication to community outreach.” That tells you that the company is interested in having a positive impact on the community around them and values service and volunteerism. Do you like to take part in volunteer activities? Mention it in the interview!

How can you determine if a company has a strong or toxic culture? When you’re more experienced in the workforce, you’re looking for more than a healthy paycheck when considering a new job. You want to find a place that you’re happy going to each work day. Culture is more than a set of values written on a website; it’s how the company and those working there act on those values. If you walk in for your interview and people are, overall, friendly, relaxed and seem happy to be where they are you have more than likely found a place with a good culture in place. One thing that’s a dead giveaway for a toxic culture is when there seems to be a high rate of turnover. If you go in for an interview and it seems like even the interviewer is lost or confused, you might want to ask more questions about what the culture is and if there have been major changes in the company.

Does it even matter? As long as you’re paid well and the job isn’t terrible, you should be happy at any company, right? Not necessarily. This, of course, depends on your industry and your personal preferences, but most of us hope to work at a place where we’re happy to go into the office. A good culture that is clearly defined can make the difference. It doesn’t just boil down to knowing what to expect or what’s expected of you; you’re able to be proud of the company you work for, the friends you make there, and the work you do.

Though speaking about culture is relatively new, it’s something that has been around for quite awhile. Whether it was recognized as such or not, you knew what companies were tough to work for or which one’s people were happiest at. Culture is more than parties and birthday cakes and can make the difference between an amazing work experience and a terrible one. Even better, as an employee at a good company, you can take part in and influence your company’s culture from the get-go.

Categories: Career Planning

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