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How to Assess the Culture of an Organization

Work Culture is the bedrock of every organization, and it is often one of the most important aspects of choosing a career. In fact, many candidates forget to mention when interviewing for a position. A variety of factors can contribute to both positive and negative work environments. Ultimately, the overall atmosphere of the organization influences intangible assets such as reputation, and goodwill.

What is Work Culture?

Work culture is an umbrella term that refers to the atmosphere of a workplace, in addition to the values, attitudes, behaviors shared by its workforce. Work Culture can also include the characteristics of the office. This could include employee proximity to management (both figuratively and literally), their open door policy, and the quality and quantity of their HR department. Moreover, a company’s reputation can become sullied by a negative workplace culture, which can result in a loss of sales, and a decrease in candidate interest.

Some Important Questions to Ask Before Taking the Job

Before accepting a new position within a company, it is a good idea to do some research into the company. Your research should include important questions about how the company operates internally, and its general reputation amongst employees:

  1. Is there a high turnover rate?

    1. A high turnover rate can be indicative of employee dissatisfaction. If a company can not keep a large percentage of their staff for longer than a year, there is either an issue with management or candidates are not being adequately vetted. Avoid companies that are constantly hiring for the same positions on a regular basis.

  2. Is the work environment team-oriented?

    1. It is well known that not all companies foster healthy collaborative working environments, and often fail to encourage teamwork amongst the different departments within the company. Make sure to determine how much individual tasks and teamwork are expected before taking the role, and whether it is a good fit for you.

  3. What kind of corporate culture does this company fall into?

    1. There are five types of corporate culture, and you should determine which one fits your personality and skillset the best. For example, some people enjoy a traditionally competitive and task-oriented company culture, while others enjoy a more free-spirited, collaborative culture. Take this into serious consideration when applying for roles.

  4. Is there opportunity for growth?

    1. Most companies want their employees to grow and flourish within their company. When interviewing, ask about what kinds of opportunities are available for your position , and the overall growth projection of the company or organization.

  5. Are deadlines strict or flexible?

    1. Deadlines are an integral part of all organizations, and must be met. However, job seekers should ask whether or not deadlines have strict time constraints, and if meeting deadlines rank high in measuring overall job performance.

Benefits of a Positive Work Environment

Believe it or not, a positive work environment is closely correlated with the company's work culture, because some work cultures simply aren't positive. If there are unrealistic expectations, strict deadlines, and an unproductive atmosphere then employees cannot flourish. Put simply, positive work environments contribute to employee satisfaction, which in turn contributes to increased productivity and quality of work. When employers take care of their employees, they feel valued and appreciated.

Tension within the Workplace

Employee grievances and complaints should be addressed immediately by management and/or an in-house Human Resource department. These complaints need to be taken seriously, as they could lead to increased tension between employees and management. If both sides are not on the same page, their differences should be hashed out in an open discussion, that ensures everyone’s voice is heard. Consider it a red flag if employees are scared to speak with upper level management for fear of possible retribution.

Communication Within the Workplace

Open dialogue and healthy communication is key to a happy and healthy work atmosphere. In America, many companies have made management more accessible to lower level employees, and have instituted an open door policy. This policy helps to facilitate conversation and ensure that every team member's voice is heard.

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