Guess what – ATKG was named the #1 Best (small) Company to Work For in Texas for 2017! And as an added bonus, I was one of the ATKGers who got to go to Austin to accept the award. The Best Companies to Work For Gala recognized the top 100 companies in the state of Texas divided into small, medium, and large categories and announced the final ranking. As the MC announced each company, he shared a little bit about what made it such a great place to work – employee benefits, employee appreciation, fun activities, and community involvement. Each company’s profile showed how the employers were constantly striving for ways to create an environment where the team is inspired, motivated and having fun. The theme was overwhelmingly clear: the best companies to work for have the best work culture.
What is work culture?
Work culture is a little tricky to explain. Culture is a bit like the personality of a company. Just about every aspect of a company contributes to the culture in some way.
Mission, vision, values: defining the company and the beliefs behind the organization.
Leadership: the way the leaders of the company lead by example, communicate with the team, and recognize individual and team accomplishments.
Workplace Practices and Policies: compensation and benefits, personal development, training and education, opportunities for promotion, dress code, work traditions, flexibility and time off policies, etc. (the list goes on and on and on).
People: the diverse personalities on the team, how they interact, and how they collaborate as a team.
Work environment: the physical aspects of the workplace, the personal touches people keep at their desks, what breakrooms and common areas look like.
Why does work culture matter?
Think of work culture like professional cologne or perfume: it’s either going to help attract and retain employees or repel and drive them away. You spend a lot of time at work. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy your time at work instead of counting down the hours until you can leave? Work feels less like labor when you enjoy what you do and the people on your team. A great office culture keeps employees engaged, happy, and feeling fulfilled. And as an added bonus for both the employers and the employees, studies have shown over and over again how a stronger culture increases productivity and efficiency.
How do you detect the work culture in a future employer?
Since work culture is so important, it only makes sense that you should look for signs of the culture when considering a new job. So, how can you tell? Look for signs when talking to employees or your interviewer. And if you can’t see it or feel it, ask.
- Do you sense that they are happy working for the firm?
- Does the team seem proud to work for the company?
- Can you see signs that the team is carrying out the mission, vision, values? Do they even know what these things ARE in their company?
- How does the company celebrate success? How does the company deal with failure?
- What is the work/life balance like?
- How do people speak to one another?
- What are they wearing? Casual dress? Formal?
- Does the work environment seem like a place that you would enjoy being a part of?
- What is the office layout like? Are there lots of cubes or are people in offices? (These questions help illustrate hierarchy and communication – is it formal, informal, collaborative in nature?)
- What do people do for lunch? This will tell you about their sociability.
- Ask questions like “how do changes get made /problems get resolved?”
Keep in mind that just because a company has a “great” culture doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the culture that is the right fit for you. Southwest Airlines is an example of a company very well known for it’s fun, unique culture. However, not everyone thrives in that kind of environment. Some people prefer a more traditional, conservative environment. At the end of the day, you have to evaluate what is most important to you to determine your perfect match.