There are many factors to consider when contemplating a career move - Is the role right for me? How do I ensure I secure the best package for myself? Is now the right time? What opportunities am I leaving behind? These are the key questions you will be asking yourself, but one aspect of a new role which can be harder to judge (often until it is too late), yet can be the biggest determiner on whether you will be happy in your new role, is the culture of the business and the behaviours and values which your new workmates hold themselves to.
Business Leader’s and HR teams are increasingly investing time, money and resources into creating an enjoyable and desirable environment for their talent to work in. This is undeniably a good thing and means candidates have more choice of differing working cultures to join. But this also poses the challenge of working out which company culture is best for you personally and which organisations are putting their money where their mouth is in their pledge to create a harmonious and happy office environment for all employees. To help judge whether the culture and values of a potential new employer is right for you there are three key factors you should consider.
‘Purpose beyond profit’ has become a buzz phrase within the corporate world but what does this actually mean and how are businesses putting this into action? How your employer defines their ‘purpose’ on the face of it may not have a visible impact to your day to day but understanding what this is and being personally engaged in it can make a huge difference to whether you feel united with your colleagues and could become the thing which gets you up in the morning when you have days where just adding to your employer’s bottom line is not enough. Do your research before you sign on the dotted line, don’t be afraid to ask how a business defines their purpose in an interview process and make sure you understand not just what your employer does but ‘why’ they do it. Also investigate the approach the business has to their clients and customers and whether this is in line with what feels natural to you.
‘Work Life Balance’ is increasingly the biggest motivator for candidates when considering a new job and one which people are paying just as much and sometimes more attention to than the $$$ on their monthly paycheck. This is not about doing less work; we are in an age where the 9 – 5 is a thing of the past we can only dream of and can hardly believe was ever possible, how did they ever get anything done!? What it is about is an employer’s approach to flexibility of when and where this work can be done and showing respect for their staff’s personal lives and commitments, whether family related or other outside of work. While it is never advisable to ask your potential boss ‘what are the working hours?’ in an interview as it may (albeit unfairly so) imply you are more focused on getting out the door at the end of the day than the job at hand, you should have a chance to speak to someone from HR during the interview process in which you can have a less formal conversation and the chance to scope out their flexibility and approach to work life balance. It is important to be realistic with yourself on what is workable for you and whether your potential employer can meet this before you commit to joining them. Many businesses claim to be ‘flexible’ but even within the same industries approaches to flexible working are at different stages of maturity and how one business defines flexible working can be very different to another, so make sure you join somewhere which has the same view as yourself on this.
‘Do I have the same (work related) beliefs and approach to business as my colleagues?’ Many of us spend more of our waking hours in the office than at home and with loved ones, so it goes without saying that ensuring you cannot just tolerate your workmates but actually get on with them is integral to the enjoyment you will have at work. However, this goes beyond just liking your colleagues and do not be mistaken for thinking this means your teammates have to be the same people you would choose to hit happy hour with on a Friday night (though this can often help…) For a lot of people their sanity at work relies on having an aspect of themselves and lives, which is separate but what is important is that you have similar values and beliefs about your work and industry and approach to business. Being united on these things lays the foundation of a respectful, successful and enjoyable working relationship, in a way which is much more fool proof than doing vodka shots while standing on a bar at 2am together.
There are of course many other differing intricacies when deciding between one organisation’s culture to another but if you can make an informed decision on whether you and your new employer are aligned on the above then it is a pretty good indicator you will be happy in the new environment. Make sure you are asking the right questions and speaking to enough people during the interview process and be true to yourself with what you really want from an employer as well as just the job and salary package. Your role and its responsibilities will progress and develop within a position but the culture of a business can take years even decades to change, so make sure you get it right and do not discover you have joined a business with differing values to yourself until it is too late.