In episode 9, I discussed how Naomi Osaka bowed out of the French Open due to mental health reasons. I expanded on that incident and related it to how the way companies treat their employees is a strong indication of corporate culture.
Today I wanted to give you more detail regarding how to evaluate a company’s corporate culture as an outsider of that organization.
I was having a conversation with a potential client recently who mentioned a few jobs she was interested in. I asked her what she knew about these particular companies. She told me she typically applied for jobs, and if she got invited for an interview, then she would learn more about them.
I do not advocate taking this approach.
Understand a Company’s Corporate Culture Before Applying
If you are looking for a new job it is important you identify companies that fit your lifestyle and values.
Many people think they can make concessions and compromises, but everyone has non-negotiables. If you know a company cannot give you the non-negotiables, there is little use in applying.
Once you get a job offer, it may be hard to turn it down.
Often, people accept jobs without considering their non-negotiables. Three months or 6 months later they realise those compromises aren’t worth it and they end up back on the job market.
This is how I end up getting many of my clients. People often come to me after they’ve taken a position in a company that was not the right fit. The first thing I do with clients is make sure they are applying to positions that are aligned with their needs.
What are Your Non-Negotiables?
Do you need flexible working hours? Or maybe nights and weekends off is important to you. That may seem like a given, but it isn’t necessarily.
I recently saw a job posting and the job description stated, “don’t bother applying if any of these apply to you: #1 You’re concerned with work-life balance and are looking for a 9-5 job.”
Not every company states what they expect from employees and what they stand for on their job descriptions.
Companies with Well-Known Corporate Culture
Some companies are well known, sometimes world-renowned, for their positive corporate culture.
Tech companies, such as Google, Facebook, Apple, are often at the top of the list.
Another example is Southwest Airlines, a US-based, low-cost, primarily domestic airline.
Southwest has a companywide culture committee that ensures employees are looked after well. They pride themselves on the fun and casual service they provide.
If you’ve ever flown on a Southwest flight, you know they engage customers in fun interactions. Instead of being in suits and high heels, employees wear sneakers and can opt for shorts.
Southwest embodies the idea of service with a smile. They want their guests to enjoy themselves, but they also want employees to have fun doing their jobs.
There are companies known for having a negative workplace culture.
Uber has been cited as the prime example of a company with a reputation problem. Uber’s culture has been described as focusing too aggressively on growth while having unhappy drivers that are underpaid.
Most companies have a corporate culture that falls somewhere in the middle of Southwest Airlines and Uber.
How to Evaluate Corporate Culture from the Outside
How do you learn about a company’s corporate culture if you are on the outside?
There are three primary steps I recommend:
#1 Examine Independent Review Sites
Employees rate their employers on a scale of 1 to 5 on a variety of metrics, such as compensation, diversity, CEO approval, and whether they would recommend friends apply there.
While there can be some variability in ratings, the most important information on employer review sites are the comments.
Employee comments might mention high turnover or significant workload for the amount of pay.
As a job seeker, these are things to be aware of.
This constructive criticism gives you things to look out for and questions to ask in an interview.
#2 Look at the Company Website BEFORE Applying
By looking at the company’s website you can learn how the organisation presents itself.
Read the About section and Mission Statement. Most company websites also have a News section, so if there is anything newsworthy happening, you can find out.
The company website also contains brand-specific keywords. You will see these words over and over again.
Sustainability is a popular one. As is “giving back to the community.”
Or even “service with a smile.”
There are two reasons you should know those key terms:
1. Ask yourself whether or not you see yourself saying these words on a daily basis. Do you buy into it?
Netflix puts a high priority on collaboration and teamwork as well as brutal honesty. If you’re someone who likes to work alone and gossip maybe Netflix isn’t for you.
2. Cultural vocabulary can be used in your application documents.
Disney employees are not employees. They are cast members. If you apply for a job there, say you are excited to become a cast member.
This is a significant part of the culture and it is expected anyone applying should be aware of this and embrace it from the start.
#3 Talk to People Who Have Interacted With the Company
You can learn about a company’s culture by speaking to people who’ve interacted with the organisation.
Former employees can give you an indication of what they thought and why they left.
Contractors and suppliers have a different perspective because they weren’t on the inside. But they tell you what they observed and how they felt working alongside the company.
Would they work with them again? Or was it a bad experience? They can tell you how that company treats its external stakeholders.
Don’t Discount the Importance of Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is important to consider before applying for any type of position.
Considering how much time we spend at work, the people we are around and the policies we are subject to can really impact our overall happiness.
It can be the difference between looking forward to Monday morning and spending your Sunday evening dreading what is to come.