Workplace culture is a big deal. A company’s values, behaviors and reputation can make a huge difference in job satisfaction.
According to this recent report from LinkedIn, 40% of fellow job-seekers cite “work culture” as their number one priority when searching for jobs.
And there’s a reason for that. You want to be sure that the job, the work environment and the people you work with will be a good match for your career and your needs.
That’s why it’s important to do your homework before accepting a job offer.
But how can you size up an employer’s culture before you actually work there?
We can help.
We’ve put together some strategies to learn more about an employer’s work environment and values.
How to gauge a potential employer’s work culture.
Now we’ll break down how to evaluate company culture to ensure it’s the right fit.
3 ways you can assess an employer’s work culture.
1. Know what’s important to you.
The first and most crucial step to assessing work culture is understanding what you value most.
Look at what motivates you. Is it perks, employee recognition, autonomy, money? What propels you to do your job well and reach for success?
Consider your core values and beliefs. Charitable work, community, team-building, kindness and respect are all ways an employer can put their values into action. Some employers even offer paid time-off dedicated to community service because employees like working where their values are reflected.
Think about your personal and professional needs. Work-life balance, transparency in communication, career growth and development, sense of purpose can all be deciding factors in culture fit. Do you have specific professional goals you’re hoping to achieve with this employer?
Creating a mental list will give you a good footing. You’ll have a visual of what you want so that you know what will determine a good culture fit.
2. Look for evidence.
Gather information that will show you proof of an employer’s work culture.
What are employees saying? How does this company treat its employees? What gets rewarded and who gets promoted?
Below are some strategies to help you get under the hood.
Review their online presence.
Work culture can be found in the way an employer describes themselves—and how they are described by employees—online.
Look at the company website. Read their ‘About’ or ‘History’ page on their website for information about their origin, mission, or company-wide milestones and awards.
Review their social media posts. See what they choose to highlight, what they celebrate or how they interact with the public.
Read employee reviews. Job seeker sites, like Glassdoor, can give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work for a particular company.
Remember that employees write reviews when they have the strongest feelings—positive or negative.
After you’ve reviewed the site, social media and employee reviews, do some analysis. Are you seeing any common themes?
Pay attention to behavior.
How can you look for evidence of an employer’s behavior as an outsider peeking in?
Evaluate the interview. Were you allowed the opportunity to ask questions? Did you feel welcomed? Did the interview feel like a one-sided interrogation or an interactive discussion? If the behavior in the interview is off-putting, it’s worth noticing.
Leverage professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn. You can see how people within the organization communicate with one another, what gets celebrated, how long people have been with the company, what behaviors get rewarded, and who gets promoted.
Gut check: When you imagine working in this organization, how does it feel? If you have doubts or concerns, you owe it to yourself to keep investigating to see if those concerns are valid.
Ask good questions.
When you are clear about what’s important to you, craft questions for your interviewer that help you understand how the company exhibits that behavior.
Avoid yes-or-no questions.
Ask about management style, how employees are evaluated, how success is measured, or how the company provides a clear growth path for their employees. And ask for examples. You can even ask your interviewer what they like best about working at the company.
Jenifer Lambert, TERRA’s Chief Strategy Officer says that looking for evidence is key when it comes to assessing work culture.
“It’s not just what an employer says—it’s what they do. It’s behavior over time that builds culture.”
So any evidence you collect, whether it’s online or in person, is going to give you tangible examples of work culture directly from the employer
3. Get an insider perspective.
If you know a current or recent previous employee, reach out to them. They can be a valuable resource to assess work culture.
You can also use a networking site such as LinkedIn to conduct a search and message anyone that works or has worked there.
Tell them about the position that you’re being considered for, and ask for insight into the cultural items that are important to you. This can be a great opportunity to ask questions that you might not bring up during an interview.
That said, keep your message professional. If they’re a current employee, they may become your future coworker!
Any information they can provide will reveal more about the company and strengthen your understanding of their work culture.
There isn’t just one way to assess culture. Following these steps will help you learn a lot more about a company’s workplace, so that you can decide if the job is something you really want.
For more tips on gleaning workplace culture, check out Jenifer’s informative video here!
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How TERRA Can Be a Resource
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