Before applying for a job, you should know what you are getting into. In today’s job market, the corporate culture of a workplace is more important than ever and it is important to know if you will fit in it. Here are some questions that you should research about a company’s culture before you accept the job:

1) What is the leadership of the company focused on? What are their backgrounds?

Corporate culture often starts at the very top of a company: the CEO. Their values have directly shaped the company into the business it is today. By researching their life and finding out what they value, you can see if your values align with theirs. If they do, there is a good chance that you will also be very comfortable in the corporate culture of their business.

2) What is the companys attitude towards working parents and a work-life balance?

Many of us throw ourselves into our careers, but we need to remember the people who are important to us. For those of us who have kids, it can be difficult to both have a career and be the parent we want to be. We also need to recognize that having a life outside of work is necessary for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Finding a company that values family and a healthy work-life balance could mean that they also value their employees. If a company encourages their employees to put in long, extra hours at the expense of their personal lives, it might not be the kind of business that you want to work for.

3) How is performance measured, promoted, and rewarded? Is there transparency around this process? Does it seem fair?

In a perfect world hard work, commitment, and talent is what should earn you promotions and more responsibilities. Sadly, this might not be the case. In some businesses, the culture can be a bit like high school. There are the “in” crowds, and the “out” crowds. This type of culture can be unfair and can lead to people who are less qualified being promoted up the ladder because of personal relationships rather than the quality of their work.

When you are looking at a company, try to find out how they measure and value the performance of their employees. Transparency and feedback in the workplace leads to a healthier and more productive workforce. That is the kind of company that you want to work for!

4) Does the company value diversity? How good are they at attracting and developing diverse leaders?

The most successful companies today are the ones that embrace diversity and celebrate the differences of their employees. A workforce that all look and act the same is not dynamic and can become static. Having a diversity of options, cultures, and ways of thinking in an organization can lead to a more productive, energetic workplace.

If a company truly values diversity, you should also see that reflected in their leadership. If the leadership of a company only reflects a single group of people, you may want to reconsider if this is a place you wish to work.

5) Some organizations are hierarchical while others are more flat. Which one would you thrive in?

The structure of a business speaks volumes about its corporate culture. Many companies are starting to move away from the hierarchical, power flowing down from the top model. In these companies, employee roles can be blurred and job titles can mean less. There are positives and negatives about both business structures, the question is which one would you be happier in?

If you are someone who prefers to know everyone’s role in the office, a hierarchical model might be for you. If you prefer to work in a place where the job titles mean a little less and there is a little more freedom, then a more “flat” structure might be what you are looking for.

6)  Do you prefer more autonomy or a team environment? Do you prefer more structure, or less?

Knowing yourself means that you know what kind of an environment you thrive in. Some people are loners in their work, preferring to do everything themselves. Others like a more collaborative approach, working with their coworkers to get things done. Some like structure at work, others prefer more freedom.

There is nothing wrong with any of these philosophies, but it is important to know which a company values. Someone who prefers to work alone won’t be happy in a corporate culture that demands they work with others all the time. Likewise, those who do their best work with others might find it difficult if they are forced into a culture that gives you more structure with no focus on teamwork.

7) How do they train their employees? Is it structured? Is there consistency?

Proper employee training is very important, and a lack of it can say a lot about how a company treats its workers. If a company’s workforce is properly trained, they will be more efficient and certain about what they are doing. Improperly trained employees can lead to a loss of profits due to customer dissatisfaction, unhappiness in the workplace, and a general feeling that a company doesn’t care about its workers.

Employee training should go beyond just a basic orientation when you are first hired. It should continue into the workplace, with managers helping employees and making sure they know how to do their jobs. The best companies often offer specialized training to certain employees, to utilize them to the best of their abilities.

8) Does the company give back to the community?

Just like a person, a company can be very selfish. They can only care about the bottom line, making profits, and will do whatever is necessary to get to the top. This kind of selfishness can be reflected in the workplace culture.

However, if a company gives back to the community and tries to make it a better place, this could mean that they are more likely to care about their employees and their employee’s families. Ask if the company supports affinity groups or mentoring programs. Just like you wouldn’t want to work for a selfish boss, you probably don’t want to work for a selfish company.

9) Are they environmentally responsible?

Being environmentally responsible says a lot about a company. It is more than just recycling paper. It means that they value the future, the planet, and want to make a positive difference. It can also mean that they don’t like waste, and value efficiency. Caring about the environment means that they care about others, and that can be a very positive trait in a corporate culture.

Being challenged and fulfilled at your job is very important, so you should make every effort to ensure that you will be working for a company that you can be proud of !

If your values and your company’s values clash, it can be difficult for both. But if your values are in sync, there is no telling how far you might climb! 

Images © We The People