5 Ways to Tell if a Company’s Culture is Right for You
5 Ways to Tell if a Company’s Culture is Right for You

Work shapes every aspect of your life, from personal finances to mental health and overall well-being. As such, before accepting a job, one of the most important considerations is how well you’ll fit into the company and if they offer an approach to work that allows you to thrive.

But how do you figure out an organization’s culture or what signals should you pay attention to? As an experienced career coach who helps people decide whether an organization’s philosophy aligns with their values, here are five ways to tell if a company’s culture is the right fit for you.

1.  Assess The Organization’s Commitment to Diversity

Since we live in a society where diversity in gender, sexuality, national origin and socio-economic status foster more opportunities for creativity, innovation and conflict resolution, it’s important to see people who look like you as well as those who don’t when looking at a company.

To assess an organization’s commitment to diversity, consider whether it incorporates an equity statement into its website or strategic plan. This statement should detail how the company fosters diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Secondly, look for variety in the senior leadership team or board of directors. A diverse group brings multiple perspectives, enhances how the team relates to the rest of the staff and encourages inclusive decision-making.

Lastly, explore whether the company has employee resource groups (ERGs), which provide opportunities for employees to connect and create community. Knowing whether your organization has these cultural or identity-based groups will offer you insight into whether people of all backgrounds, orientations and capabilities have the opportunity to contribute.

2. Ask About Developmental and Growth Opportunities

When starting a new job, you should see a potential career path and possibilities within the organization. The ability to develop your skills is a vital part of this equation, so look for formal learning programs and guided growth opportunities. Additionally, ask how the organization makes promotional decisions and the skills or qualifications needed for advancement opportunities.

If you find that a company has a limited budget for professional development, ask about what professional growth opportunities exist within the company. For example, some companies offer stretch goals that allow employees to take on more challenging projects, while others have mentoring programs where senior employees mentor junior employees.

3. Gain Insight Into the Work Environment

Finding a work environment that matches your needs is vital to productivity and job satisfaction. If you don’t, getting projects done can be difficult. Here are a few questions to ask to get a feel for the organization’s working conditions:

  1. What’s a typical day like for someone in this role?
  2. Are there opportunities for remote and hybrid work?
  3. How does management encourage employee wellness?
  4. What are ways that management enables employee productivity?
  5. How often do teams meet and what are the purpose and outcomes of these meetings?

If you visit the office, note the setup and how people connect. If there’s an open office layout or you notice that employees open their office doors, this may signal a workplace that fosters collaboration. It’s also an excellent idea to consider asking for an informational interview with someone in the same or similar role to gain insight into whether it’s a place you want to spend hours of your life.

4. Evaluate a Company’s Online Presence

The type of content a company shares online can provide a lot of information about its culture. If a company has a dedicated section on its website or social media posts for announcing achievements or team updates, it shows the company is transparent with its customers and team. If they post about social issues such as the expansion of LGBTQ+ rights or Black Lives Matter, it may show they value diversity and inclusion.

You should also consider exploring sites such as Glassdoor for a less biased opinion of what life is like at the company. Here are a few questions to keep in mind while researching and evaluating a company’s site and social media:

  1. Does the company provide opportunities for customers to give feedback on their product or services through polls or surveys?
  2. Does the company provide gifts or giveaways to dedicated followers?
  3. How frequently does the company post on their social media platforms?
  4. Is there any negative or disparaging news attached to the brand?
  5. What social issues has the company been vocal about or shown support for?

5. Learn About the Company’s Decision-Making Process

Studying how a company makes decisions and who is involved offers an excellent lens on its culture and whether it fosters equity and collaboration. A positive company culture will be open about the decision-making process. They’ll ensure employees understand who makes the decisions and give them opportunities to weigh in on them. As a prospective employee, it’s essential to find companies that provide opportunities to give feedback and weigh in when appropriate or when it directly impacts your work.

Here are a few questions to ask to gain insight into how your potential employer makes decisions:

  1. What opportunities exist for employees to provide constructive feedback to managers or senior leaders?
  2. Provide an example of a time when you, as a manager, struggled with a decision. What did you do and how did you know the decision was correct?
  3. Tell me about a time when senior leaders solicited feedback from other employees. What was the experience like and what did they decide?

Determining whether a company is a good fit is challenging — but it’s essential to be proactive and diligent. Company culture is the key to employee retention and will play a significant role in your career or job satisfaction. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure you find the right fit before you accept an offer. Good luck!

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Author Dr. Ciera Graham-Graves

Dr. Ciera Graham-Graves

Guest writer Dr. Ciera Graham-Graves has 12 years of experience as a higher education administrator. She enjoys writing on issues pertaining to the challenges impacting women and ethnic minorities in the workplace. She is a past career columnist for the Seattle Times and the Everett Herald, and a current editorial contributor to Career Contessa and Best Colleges. 

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