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November 25, 2019, by Leah Sharpe

5 Signs Of A Positive Organisational Culture

By Abra Miller, Freelance SEO and Content Consultant, and alumna

A job can offer the best salary, interesting and varied work, and a generous selection of benefits. But if you don’t gel with the organisational culture, even a job that looks perfect on paper can be a nightmare. 

What do we mean by organisational culture? It’s the social and psychological environment that’s unique to every company. It’s in the management style, the way people talk to each other, and the way decisions are made. 

A company with a positive organisational culture is a wonderful place to work. There’s a shared vision, so everyone will feel inspired and motivated. People look out for each other. Your boss feels more like a supportive friend than a manager. There are real opportunities for growth – not just career progression, but personal growth too. 

Let’s take a look at some of the signs to look out for: 

There’s an ethos and a vision

What’s the organisation’s reason for existing? An organisation with a bad culture would answer “to make money”.  But for an organisation with a positive culture, this isn’t enough.  

If you share your employer’s ethos and vision, you’ll find your work more engaging and rewarding. For example you might be working to help people, to transform lives, and to make the world a better place. If the interviewer starts talking about the company’s ethos, it’s a very good sign indeed.  

For an idea of what a truly inspiring company vision looks like, take a look at this list.

Ask the right questions

You’ll usually be given the chance to ask a few questions of your own during a job interview. Use this as an opportunity to gain some insights into the culture. 

Here are some questions you could ask: 

  • What’s an average day like here?
  • Do you offer any training and development? 
  • How would you describe the management style? 
  • What’s your on-boarding process like for new starters? 
  • What are the biggest challenges of the job? 

And of course, you could just come out and say, ‘How would you describe your organisational culture?’

You can find more ideas for questions to ask during your interview here. 

Take a close look at the benefits

Beyond the salary and the holiday allowance, what sort of benefits does the company offer?  

Some benefits might look good on the surface. But things like fridges full of beer and a pool table in the staff room will be poor compensation indeed if the work is stressful and the hours are long. 

The benefits that really make a difference are those that actively champion your health and wellbeing. Look out for things like cycle to work schemes, subsidised gym memberships, flexible working policies, and anything else that encourages a good work/life balance. 

Learn more about the different types of benefits to watch out for.

Do your research 

You should research before any job interview. But apart from learning about the company and the position, you could also do some research into the company culture. 

What do people say about the company on social media, for example? Look for posts from employees, managers, customers and competitors. Read any reviews, blog posts, and other media articles you can find, too.  Also, look for the organisation on Glass Door. This website allows employees to anonymously review their employers. Each company listed has a rating out of five. The higher the rating, the better the culture!

Trust your instinct

An organisational culture is invisible. But you can still feel it. So pay attention to the sort of feelings you get about the company during your interview. 

What’s the atmosphere like? Is there a buzz, or a tension? Does it feel like a place you could be happy? How do people look, talk, and act? Do they seem energised, or do they seem bored and tired? Pay attention to the way your interviewer makes you feel, too. Are they warm, friendly, and supportive? How long did they make you wait? Did they offer you a drink during your interview?  

Sometimes, you can just feel an organisational culture. You can sense it. So trust your instinct. 

A job interview should work both ways. Your potential employer will assess whether you’ll be a good fit for their company. But at the same time, you should assess whether the company will be a good fit for you. 

Find out more about working life via the Careers and Employability Service website

Posted in Applying For JobsChoosing Your CareerInterviews