Our experience of a company goes well beyond what we are paid, how we progress and what our daily tasks involve – our physical and psychological environments are also massive contributors to happiness in the workplace.
With a third of Irish employees spending more than five additional hours in work each week, office culture has never been more important. So what exactly is workplace culture and how can you figure out if it’s right for you?
Before your interview
If you have a big job interview coming up, don’t just research the company’s projects and reports – spend time looking at the website to see if they also mention culture or beliefs. A ‘Meet the Team’, ‘Why Work for Us’ or ‘Core Values’ page might be hidden under the ‘About Us’ section. This should indicate what is important to the company and the benefits they can offer employees. For example, one of our core values at Cpl is Empowerment and employees enjoy incentives for creative thinking and internal training sessions on a monthly basis.
Thanks to online reviews and social media, it’s easier than ever to figure out what a workplace culture is like. Surprisingly, a third of Irish companies don’t monitor online reviews on websites like Glassdoor.com. On Glassdoor.com people give honest feedback about what a company is like to work for. While you should take some negative reviews with a pinch of salt, it’ll be apparent if there is any common cause for concern.
More and more companies are realising the importance of brand personalisation and taking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to depict office life. Have a look at a company’s online presence and what they post on social media. What they share will indicate the values of the organisation and what employees spend their time doing when they’re not busy meeting deadlines. You can also get a good sense of what your interviewers and potential colleagues are like by taking a look at their profiles. If they care about the same things and have similar interests, chances are you will enjoy the same office culture.
At your interview
Chatting to the receptionist and assessing how employees interact with each other is a good way of figuring out what a company is actually like. Does everyone seem on edge or rushed? Are people smiling and chatting to each other in the corridor? What does the employees’ body language indicate? The reception area is like a microcosm of the entire organisation so it’s a good idea to arrive for your interview a little early to assess the situation.
Your interview should be a two-way conversation – not only are your interviewers trying to find out about your skills and experience, you also need to figure out your suitability for the company. At the end of your interview, make sure you ask questions about what working at the company is actually like. Ask your interviewers what they like the best, how many hours they work, if they socialise outside of work and what the organisation’s priorities are for the next few years. They will want to put their best foot forward and sell the company to you so beware of any contradictory non-verbal cues.
After the interview
If you are offered the position but don’t feel like you have a proper understanding of what the culture is like, ask for a tour of office. You might even want to meet the team or look at where your desk will be. Being physically present in the workplace will help you decide whether it is the right fit for you. Ultimately, however, office culture boils down to more than bean bags in a common room or posters on a wall – it’s about the atmosphere in the room when the boss leaves and what kind of lifestyle this creates for you.
When you’re searching for work, it’s easy to become blinded to bad workplace culture. Desperate for a new role, you may overlook an unhappy employee in the reception, unsuitable working hours or a stifling office structure. Think about who you are and where you’d like to work. If you’re offered a job that doesn’t tie in with that, chances are you won’t be happy in the role and may be on the lookout again soon.