I have been described as cynical. It is therefore with some surprise that I find myself writing a blog on culture; its existence in the workplace, its importance for both candidate and client and, crucially, how as the market becomes more competitive organisations must begin to create an ‘identity’ and as such a unique culture (and by definition a selling point).
So what is this allusive culture? “Culture is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviours shared by a group of people. Culture is the behaviour that results when a group arrives at a set of – generally unspoken and unwritten – rules for working together” (Business Management Controls: A guide By John Kyriazoglou). So what is that in practice? It’s the physical environment from a break out area to an open plan work space, it’s the values that employees share and deploy in all of their working practices (and life!), the opportunities for self promotion and self development, its sharing (and celebrating) the wins and the losses. It’s a million small things; formality, open door policies, social occasions, and saying hello in the morning. It’s the things that employers can do cost free to define their business.
So why is getting culture right so important? Simply put in my view it is THE most important factor. Yes I’ve talked a lot in previous blogs about what prompts people to seek alternative employment. This is generally progression (financial and career), work type, work quality and numerous other things; the reality is that each and every job searcher will share one common goal – the desire to be happy in work. Happy for most means included, surrounded by like minded souls, and a sense of belonging. Five years ago I left BCL Legal and experienced what it was like to feel I that I didn’t fit into a workplace culture, returning over three years’ ago was like coming home. It’s not to say that BCL Legal is right for everyone or perfect by any stretch, but it is right for me.
My message is; if you’re a job seeker concentrate on finding that cultural match and put that at the forefront of your search. Be honest with yourself about what drives you and ultimately what makes you happy. As an employer remember that well known African proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.