Company Culture: What Is It And How Does It Affect You?

There’s a lot of talk about company culture as of late, but it seems to be one of those terms often used and less often understood. What is it? And how does it affect you as a job seeker and an employee?

Company culture, at its simplest, is how things are done within a specific company. This encompasses a company’s missions and values, how professional or casual the environment is, what level of work-life balance is provided, the level of teamwork or autonomy among coworkers, etc. It’s the overall attitude and face of a company presented to employees and customers.

Companies that strive for a positive company culture know a thing or two about employee satisfaction and are striving to achieve it. Everyone wants to be happy at work, and company culture is a key player in employee satisfaction. The companies who strive to build and improve upon a unique culture are typically those who care most about keeping their employees happy, so any job seeker looking for a rewarding opportunity would do well to make culture an important factor in their search.

While company culture is often seen as a big picture, it also affects the day-to-day more than you may expect. From how many hours you work per week to whether or not you find the work environment beneficial to your productivity, company culture is a factor. Do you thrive in fast-paced, competitive environments, or laid back collaborative ones? Do you prefer cubicles, offices, or open floor plans? What’s more important to you: a higher salary, or a more flexible work schedule? These are all factors to consider in any job search, and you can ensure your needs are met by targeting companies that foster the type of environment that suits you best.

Furthermore, culture can encompass how flexible positions are. In some companies, your job title is firm and you’re expected to do only what’s listed within your responsibilities; in others, it’s encouraged and sometimes even expected that you’ll stretch beyond your official duties to help coworkers, support outer departments, and expand your skills. Knowing which approach you most enjoy and thrive under is a good way of assessing whether or not you’d work well with a prospective employer.

By putting this kind of emphasis on company culture and, subsequently, your happiness with your future place of employment, you could also be ensuring more growth potential for yourself. According to an infographic by Entrepreneur, happy workers are 12% more productive than those who are unhappy in their place of work. More productive workers often have more, and better, opportunities for growth and advancement/promotion than unproductive ones—therefore, it can be possible that employees who choose wisely based on company culture and are happier as a result may be paving the way to more career advancement opportunities.

Ultimately, company culture is something that flies under the radar for many job seekers but affects their search, interviewing process, and working experience more than they may realize. To learn about how you can assess a company’s culture before taking a job offer from them, take a look at our article How to Ensure the Job and Company Are Right for You.