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Workplace culture: Is yours the right fit for you?

How to know that a workplace’s culture fit is right for you?

It’s a funny thing isn’t it; the more you know, the more you realise there is to know. And so over my 25 years in the public relations industry I have come to realise that culture fit in the workplace is everything or nothing.

Everything because as you experience different businesses and office cultures, you start identifying what works for you, what doesn’t, and more importantly what it looks like.

Nothing because when I started out my career, I had no culture fit benchmark — only a sense of how I felt at any point in time in that job. The alignment of the organisation’s culture and its values with mine was merely a feeling I had day-to-day based on whether I fitted in, how I was accepted, whether I was valued, and whether I felt looked after, supported, and mentored.

I was very fortunate that the first job I had in public relations ticked all these boxes and it gave an awesome first compass by which to measure culture fit in other jobs I’ve had.

Culture fit is everything

Over time, in other workplaces and the ensuing good, bad, or indifferent experiences, I soon learnt that culture fit was everything for my own sense of worth, personal growth, and ultimately job satisfaction. It mattered less and less how exciting the job was, how prestigious, how revered the brand, or how much I was paid, and it mattered more and more to work in a great culture, surrounded by great people with the right values, behaviours that matched this, and the relevant support structures to institutionalise these.

No names mentioned but I will never forget when having taken a 180 degree turn in careers, I walked into one of the strangest cultures I have encountered. One day, a few months into the role, I was sitting with senior management deciding how we were going to get ‘rid’ of a senior employee when two of them turned to me and asked why, in my last disciplinary hearing with the employee, I hadn’t been tough enough on them to make them cry. Seriously!

I had already come to the realisation that I had made the move for the wrong reasons – money – but this was the final catalyst for deciding that the job was never going to work no matter how much they paid me. The culture fit wasn’t only at odds with my values, it was the complete antithesis to my philosophy of supporting people as far as I possibly could in order to help them be the best they could be.

How do you know that your workplace’s culture fit is right for you?

So ask yourself today:

  1. Does what your organisation stand for rest easy with your values and in what you believe?
  2. Does what they say match what they do, or do they say one thing to look good yet act in a totally different way?

Much has been written about culture fit and what it means – some will say it relates to an organisation’s values, mission and vision, others will say it has to do with beliefs and priorities, while still others will say it’s the relationships between employees and employers.

In my experience all of these play a role but primarily it is about how well a company shares its values and goals with its employees and critically whether it includes them in the process. For culture fit should be a two way relationship – respect, feeling valued, or creating ownership among employees is never a one way process. And therein lies your first and biggest clue when judging whether a company’s culture fit will be a good one for you.

I’ve tried to keep this post as practical as possible, but I would like to use one jargon-laden word only because I don’t know any other way of expressing this – employee value proposition. Many companies, particularly professional service firms, spend a lot of time interrogating, creating, and presenting their employee value proposition as a key to attracting the best talent.

And I think they’re right because in reality companies that get their culture fit right have:

– A happier, more engaged workforce
– High employee loyalty and retention
– Significant boosts to productivity and creative outputs

Those who have had the privilege, like me, of experiencing this will know the power this vests in you as a valued employee.

What should you do in your next job interview?

When you go for your next job interview I suggest you spend less time talking about the job, the salary and the benefits and more time interrogating their values and how these are played out in their day-to-day activities and work.

Only then can you truly start deciding whether it is a place in which you’d like to work.

More reading:

Cultural fit: How to match your skills and personality to a job
The ugly side of brand, culture, and flexibility in the workplace
Fun and money – the 2 reasons to come to work

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Award-winning Australian recruitment agency, Firebrand Talent, ignites the careers of digital, marketing, creative, communications, advertising, & media talent. If you are looking for your next career move, check out the jobs we currently have on in Sydney & Melbourne.

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